IT was the middle of the night in February last year when Louise Clancey’s mobile went off.
Her brother had been critically injured and his partner killed in a car crash just outside Lismore.
Sitting in the Lighthouse Theatre yesterday in a university graduation gown, Ms Clancey has a clear memory of the days and weeks following the tragedy.
“One of my younger brothers was getting married on February 2. My eldest brother Scott and his partner Colin flew down from Sydney to attend the wedding in Port Fairy,” the popular local singer said.
“They were travelling on the Hamilton Highway and just out of Lismore on Berrybank they were involved in a major collision.”
Colin and the driver of the other car died instantly.
Ms Clancey rushed to Melbourne to be at her brother’s side. The following weeks became a whirlwind of dealing with the police, coroner and organising a funeral interstate.
Among the grief there was another problem. “I was halfway through my honours degree, doing it part-time,” Ms Clancey said.
She came close to deferring her studies.
“When I had a moment to think about it I thought I should keep going ahead with it. In the end I took my inspiration from Colin and knew that he would be really proud of me.”
Despite the heartache and loss, yesterday she graduated from Deakin University with a bachelor of arts (honours) for her study into dystopian young adult literature — namely the Hunger Games trilogy.
“It’s one of the most burgeoning genres in literature,” she explained.
“We used to write about utopias but now the prevalent genre is dystopia and I think that reflects the fears we have surrounding the environment, war, poverty and crime.”
During the year she also attended an international conference in the Netherlands and continued teaching as an academic at the campus.
Her thesis, dedicated to Colin, scored a H1 result and qualifies her to apply for PhD.
“I’m looking at starting that next year,” she said.