Jane Welsh, professor and interim head of the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS) in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), welcomed those with an interest in multiple sclerosis to the 21st annual “English Tea” luncheon on Dec. 2 in the VENI Building’s Mark Francis Room.
The event is part of the Brazos Valley Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Patients’ Support Group (BVMSPSG) and originated after Dana Dean, a graduate student working on MS research, said to Welsh, “Wouldn’t it be fun if we all got together to talk about our research with community members who have MS.”
The idea was tossed around and the annual English Tea was born.
“We started having these as afternoon teas, with hot tea and cucumber sandwiches, and it’s developed from there,” Welsh said. “We’ve become great friends over the years. It’s been wonderful time of sharing research with each other and making new friends in the community.”
Welsh and VIBS professor Jianrong Li host the meeting, which this year was full of undergraduate and graduate students from the laboratories of Welsh, Li, and VIBS research assistant professor Candice Brinkmeyer-Langford, as well as community members and a few new guests.
One of the new guests was Lisa Cameron, from the Houston office of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which awarded scholarships to students from Texas A&M.
“I’m really excited to be with you all here today,” Cameron said. “One of the things that the National MS Society does every year is sponsor scholarships for students who are either living with MS or have a parent or relative with MS. It turns out that this year Texas A&M has two such scholars here today. We thought that this was a wonderful opportunity to really honor them.”
The first student, Carolyn Barrett, is a freshman in the Mays Business School, who plans to major in finance.
“She is living with MS and was diagnosed at 17,” Cameron said. “She is a National MS Society ambassador. She actually rode in our bike race the called the VP MS150. She was a participant and a team fundraising coordinator. She received a top fundraising award and the 2017 Stronger Together award. That’s so impressive, because that is our actual annual bike ride with the MS Society, and it’s a two-day bike ride that goes from Houston to Austin.”
At Memorial High School in Houston, Barrett received an award of excellence in English and was nominated for the outstanding female junior award. She was a member of National Charity League throughout middle and high school, where she was recognized her senior year for having the most community service hours in her class.
The other award winner, Ryan Kenley, is a graduate of Friendswood High School, just outside of Houston.
“He is a National Merit Committed Scholar, a National AP scholar, he was involved heavily in UIL math and science competitions in high school,” Cameron said. “He volunteered over 260 hours at the Houston Methodist Hospital.”
A general engineering major, who plans to enter the biomedical engineering program next year, Kenley dreams of going to medical school in the future.
“Ryan’s mother is living with MS,” Cameron said. “As you can see, another really incredibly impressive scholar. Congratulations!”
Research presentations, discussions, and questions from the support group were lively and inspirational. The work continues with the hope of a cure one day.
“The gathering is a great motivation for us as we continue to find new clues about this disease,” Li said.