Despite being based in the USA for more than 50 years, alumna Dr Nancy Alcock-Hood (BSc 1949) has never forgotten her Tasmanian roots, or the generosity that helped her get to university.
Born and raised in Dairy Plains near Deloraine in the state’s north, the 92 year-old biochemist recently made a donation to the University’s Foundation USA to help the next generation of rural students get to university.
Her gift endowed the The Nancy Alcock-Hood Undergraduate Scholarship in perpetuity, to provide financial support for students from the north or north-west of Tasmania applying to study undergraduate degrees at the University.
“My family was not able to afford for me to go to university, so I was very pleased that I received an Education Department stipend that enabled me to move to Hobart and study at university,” Nancy said.
“In creating this scholarship, I wanted to try and provide that support for other people, especially from rural areas.”
The scholarship was awarded for the first time this year to Eloise Knuckey, 18, of Turners Beach in Ulverstone, enabling her to start a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.
“It was wonderful when I found out that Eloise was awarded and that she is from Ulverstone, because it is not very far from where I was born,” Nancy said.
The scholarship will provide Eloise with financial support for the duration of her degree, and will next be awarded when she completes her term as scholar.
The namesake scholarship is doubly significant for Nancy because it includes the surname of her late husband, Henry Hood, a neuroscientist that she met in the retirement village where she lives in New Hampshire, near Boston.
“At the age of 82 I got married for the first time. They were wonderful years, and we visited Tasmania on three occasions,” she said.
Those journeys were just three of the 18 times she has returned to Tasmania to visit family since she left in 1957.
“My last trip was 18 months ago, but now I’m unable to travel the long distance – however, I still talk to my sister, who lives in Rosny, every day on Facetime,” she said.
Born on her father’s family farm in Dairy Planes near Ulverstone, Tasmania, Nancy attended the local primary school in Deloraine before studying at the (then) Launceston High School. She moved to Hobart to study her undergraduate degree at the University’s first location, Domain House, taking a five-year break to teach high school maths and chemistry.
Nancy graduated in May 1949, and went on to work as a biochemist at Launceston General Hospital, leaving after five years to travel to England where her father was born. While abroad, she obtained a position at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London, where she completed her PhD in biochemistry.
Her supervisors suggested that she spend time researching in the United States, and she left for New York City, where she spent three years at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, followed by two years working in Sydney, Australia.
After receiving permanent residency to live in the United States, she returned to New York City to take up a research position at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, before spending the next fourteen years at one of the four Texas state medical schools.
She now lives in a retirement community in New Hampshire, where she met and married her late husband, Henry.