Friday, November 05, 2010

Tracey A. Welch, B.Sc. (Hons)

I would argue that the bravest individuals are those with a poorly-developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them. Such people are, however, extremely rare. For the rest of us, once apprehension takes hold, and the odds perceived to be too adverse, we either stand still or retreat. There is, though, a special sub-category among us mere mortals. It relates to those who are all too aware of what they face, and of their own limitations, not to mention the price of failure, but plough onward regardless. This article is a short tribute to one such person.

I first met Tracey Welch (Figure 13.1) in the autumn of 2006. I was enamoured of her immediately. Her humility, especially, was a delight, despite some of it stemming clearly from a chronic lack of self-confidence. This is, I know, a quality which does not evaporate without the malign influence of others. (I was curious as to whom.) I distinguished myself by calling her ‘Claire’.

Figure 13.1: Talking science ... or perhaps not.

Copyright © 2010 Gemma Dawson

Science degrees do not come easy, believe me. For Tracey, studying for one as a Mature student, while working simultaneously, and running a home almost singlehandedly, made the task doubly difficult. Principally, there could never be enough hours in the day. (I recall my mother experiencing the same pressures with an Open University degree in the early 1980s.) In other words, Tracey was up against it before she had even enrolled.

Despite the brain-ache and day-to-day logistical challenges, I never heard Tracey complain about her lot. Tragedy struck, in the form of serious illness, just four months from the scheduled end of the course. Prolonged absence from lectures meant that she would have to repeat her entire final year, this when her colleagues had already completed their studies and graduated. This would have been dispiriting for anyone.

Tracey’s quiet determination and understated capability paid off in the end (Figure 13.2). She told me, by email in August of this year, that she had taken a 2:1.

Figure 13.2: On the eve of Tracey’s graduation ceremony

Copyright © 2010 Gemma Dawson

Tracey’s graduation took place this week inside one of the oldest, and most resplendent, cathedrals in England (Figures 13.3 and 13.4). Having received my own degrees in abstentia by choice, witnessing such a ceremony was, personally, a novel experience, and I felt privileged to attend (Figure 13.5). The proceedings were dignified, with just the right degree of formality, and organized to perfection. Furthermore, a sophisticated video link to the university campus bars was provided for those who could not secure tickets.

Figure 13.3: Degree presentation was made by the university’s vice-chancellor, Canon Professor Timothy Wheeler, DL.

Official photograph taken by Ede & Ravenscroft (London) Ltd.

Copyright © 2010 Tracey Welch

Figure 13.4: Tracey A. Welch, Bachelor of Science with Honours

Copyright © 2010 Gemma Dawson

Figure 13.5: A happy reunion after the ceremony

Copyright © 2010 Stephen Welch

Afterwards, I joined Tracey’s family for a celebratory meal at a local French restaurant. Predictably, it was fully booked, as was everywhere else. At every table sat a graduand, wearing a gown adorned with the Faculty of Applied Science’s colours, surrounded by proud family and friends. It was heartening to witness so much happiness and optimism in a single room.

Looking back, it was no coincidence that Tracey was universally liked and admired by staff and students alike. In the face of substantial odds, her academic goal was attained in some style. Today, her alma mater must feel almost as proud of her as I do (Figure 13.6).

Figure 13.6: A front-row graduate

Copyright © 2010 Barrie Welch

Copyright © 2010 Paul Spradbery

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.