Mercy High School, Notre Dame of Maryland University mourn death of Amayah Charles

The Mercy High School community gathered Oct. 17 for a prayer service to recall Amayah Charles, a 2018 graduate who died Oct. 14 in a car accident on the Baltimore Washington Parkway. Later that night, the college community of Notre Dame of Maryland University gathered for another prayer service for Charles.

The Notre Dame sophomore, who was 19, was majoring in nursing, according to President Marylou Yam.

“We’re grieving. We’re grieving and we’re so sad,” Yam said.

She praised her student’s presence at the north Baltimore campus.

“She demonstrated the true spirit of what it meant to be a part of the Notre Dame community,” Yam said. “She lit up the room with her bright smile.”

“The words that come to mind are ‘a bright light’,” said Mary Beth Lennon, president of Mercy High.

Charles  was known for her “electric smile,” her focus on her goals and her devotion to her younger siblings, according to Lennon.

Her leadership skills were noted at both Notre Dame and Mercy.

“She was a natural leader,” Lennon said. She was involved in the arts, athletics, social justice, class leadership and student body leadership.

Among her many activities, she was Junior Vice President, a member of the National Honor Society and secretary of Mercy’s Catherine McAuley chapter, active with the Environmental Club and International Club. She sang with the Madrigals choral group all four years, worked on the Prom Committee and Class Steering Committee, ran track freshman through junior years and was part of the Activities Council. She was also active in Field Day, Mercy’s spirited competition between classes held each spring.

At Notre Dame, she was a supporter of campus life and willing to reach out to students who needed help, according to Yam.

“She was a champion for her fellow students,” she said. “She will be sorely missed.”

Active at Fountain Baptist Church in Baltimore City, Charles also was involved in her church’s dance ministry.

“She had a strong faith,” Lennon said. “She was really determined to achieve her aspirations and goals in life. She made it happen for herself.”

She wasn’t only a strong student, she was a devoted sister to David, Ali, Auston and Ava. Lennon said Charles had spent Sunday with her sisters and brothers.

“She was like a second mother to her siblings,” Lennon said.

The Notre Dame community learned of her death Monday afternoon and organized a gathering on Tuesday and a Wednesday afternoon Mass as well as Thursday’s vigil, to offer an opportunity to mourn their fellow student, Yam said.

At Mercy, the prayer service was offered for the whole school community, the alumnae, Charles’ parents Allison Makes and David Charles and her siblings, and representatives of Notre Dame and KIPP Ujima Village Academy, which Charles attended before going to Mercy.

Speakers included Dean of Students Mary Ella Marion, ’76, Amayah’s advisor sophomore through senior year, Director of Development Niakia Cheese-Thornton and Lennon. A photo of Charles at her graduation was on display, accompanied by a lit candle. Students were to have an opportunity to write their feelings about Charles during the service.

Lennon said a member of the Madrigals told her how sad she was at the news. She told Lennon, “She really reached out to me and I feel so badly.”

“She’s always going to be remembered in our hearts and she’ll always be a member of the Notre Dame of Maryland University community,” Yam said.

Mary K. Tilghman

Mary K. Tilghman

Mary Tilghman is a freelance contributor to the Catholic Review who previously served as managing editor, news editor and staff writer for the Review.

A parishioner of St. Ignatius in Baltimore, she and her husband have three adult children. Her first novel, “Divided Loyalties” (Black Rose Writing), a historical novel set in the aftermath of the Battle of Antietam, was published in 2017.