Tracy Sheliah Fleming

Tracy Sheliah Fleming

What education have you taken?

With no small degree of excitement, I am about to complete my Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing! I transitioned to this new adventure with a diploma in Graphic Communications and Print Technology from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and a range of extended studies courses from the Alberta College of Art + Design.

What accomplishments are you proud of?

While I have been honoured with multiple scholarships and was thrilled to have had a whole lot of hard work recognized with induction into Brandon University’s President’s Honour Society, I am by far most proud of all that I have learned through my studies. My nursing education has broadened my mind, enlarged my heart and bolstered my spirit. Not only do I perceive the world and the people around me with deeper compassion and empathy, I go forward with a new set of skills to counter oppression, both as an ally to and advocate for marginalized persons and communities.

Tell me about yourself / your background / your history.

My previous career in print/web design was every bit as fabulous as I hoped it would be! As a freelance artist during my final ten years in this field, I was afforded the opportunity to create with/for a wide range of clients across North America. I count some of the most rewarding projects as those which assisted artists and small business owners in showcasing their talent and pursing their passion.

I equally enjoyed bringing my arts background to collaborating with and promoting the vision of non-profit organizations such as Pound Rescue, a no kill animal shelter in Okotoks, Alberta; the Canadian Spinal Research Organization, an Ontario based charity dedicated to finding a cure for paralysis and improving the physical quality of life for individuals with spinal cord injury; and the YWCA of Calgary’s English for New Canadians program, an initiative to reduce poverty and social isolation for newcomers to Canada.

How did you become interested in your field of study?

In 2009, I began to wonder how I might migrate from behind the glow of a computer monitor to some different setting. Researching potential career paths lead to a year of volunteer service on a long-stay psychiatric unit at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary, Alberta. Within this environment, I came to grasp that my creativity and life experience might be shaped to provide professional support to individuals with mental health problems. I moved to Brandon to pursue my degree in mental health nursing.

What is your philosophy in life?

I believe that the human journey is characterized by a desire to find communion and acceptance in knowing one’s self, knowing others and being known. I draw from Krishnamurti in sensing that the basis of such connection involves striving to move beyond preconceptions, memories or images that prevent knowing the self and other persons actually now . Through purposefully creating relational environments of unconditional acceptance that are grounded in the present, we negate disempowering fixed images and foster the potential for positive change, both within ourselves and within others.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I consider myself immeasurably blessed to have been nurtured by an assembly of incredibly wise, compassionate and intuitive nursing professors/mentors. I hope to one day inspire young nursing hearts in the same way. I very much wish to contribute to actions that promote a new cultural perspective of mental health problems through honouring the lived experiences of mental health service users and their families. I aim to contribute to nursing research and policy change that promotes self-definition and self-determination.

Nominator’s comments

Ms Fleming is a fourth year psychiatric nursing student who has a keen interest and exceptional thirst for any knowledge that will contribute to her ability to care for her future clients. Tracy is a skilled critical thinker with a quiet modesty and an insatiable curiosity. Her creativity is readily apparent and she uses her previous career in graphic design to share her ideas. Tracy recognizes the importance of life-long learning and demonstrates a genuine presence, an empathetic approach, and a strong sense of commitment to those she has chosen to serve. She successfully navigates challenging clinical situations in ways that are carefully attuned to the needs of her clients. In her future we fully anticipate that Tracy will make substantive contributions to the health and well being of her clients, the knowledge of her profession, and the advancement of mental health services.