Nora Irene Percy was born on December 18, 1981, in Atlanta, Georgia. Her parents, Elaine and Tom Percy, were licensed real estate brokers who owned their own Century 21 franchise and earned a substantial income.
The demands of the business required Elaine and Tom to be away from home most of the time, and Nora was left in the care of babysitters and nannies practically from the day she was born.
Nora was a lonely child, and several of her elementary school teachers described her as starved for affection and attention. Nora worked endless hours on her schoolwork to gain the acceptance and approval of her teachers.
In high school, she took as many AP and honors classes as possible and graduated with better than a 4.5 grade point average. During her senior high years, she was a peer counselor and tutor whom classmates characterized as tough but fair.
Nora attended Berry College near Rome, Georgia and was awarded numerous scholarships. Nora’s parents believed that she should earn her own money and she struggled financially throughout her college years. After receiving her B.A. in Management, she went on to earn an MBA degree from Berry College, graduating with high honors.
Upon graduation, she was hired as an instructor at the School of Business at the University of Mississippi, and with her typical hard work and dedication, she earned her Ph.D. at Ole Miss and was promoted to Assistant Professor. With this newfound financial independence, she developed a shopping habit, consisting mainly of shoes, and for a brief time, she accrued substantial credit card debt.
As a professor, Nora was popular with her students, often acting as an unofficial guidance counselor. She also tutored students and helped them prepare for final exams.
Nora typically dated only casually and usually went out with other Ole Miss professors. Her relationship with Douglas Reed, an Associate Professor in the Ole Miss English Department, was the longest she'd had since high school, and she believed that they were in love.