A COMPASSIONATE student who overcame his own difficulties to help others has been named Highland Theological College UHI Student of the Year.
Mike Robertson (31) from Inverness has just completed a BA degree in theological studies from the Dingwall-based institution, which is part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.
Overcoming the challenges presented by having a visual impairment, Mike was commended for his excellent academic work, his determination to succeed and his dedication to others. On top of university work, family life and training to become a Church of Scotland minister, the father-of-three also found time to volunteer as a trustee of Carpathian Aid, a charity which works to tackle discrimination against disabled people in Romania. His support included encouraging a team of friends to travel to the country in July to attend a camp to help disabled and disadvantaged children.
Highland Theological College UHI development officer, Marina MacKenzie, explained: “Mike has had to work very hard to overcome significant problems associated with visual impairment, but has never let this stop him from achieving his goals. The way he’s dealt with his eyesight problems during his studies has been inspiration to his classmates and staff.”
Principal of Highland Theological College UHI, Hector Morrison, added: “Mike is a worthy winner, having exhibited many fine, personal qualities over the period of his studies. As if overcoming the challenges of impaired vision were not enough to cope with alongside family life and the additional study requirements placed on candidates for ministry of the Church of Scotland, Mike found time to engage in – and to encourage fellow students to be engaged in – charity work for those less fortunate than himself. He also acted as a student representative on a variety of committees. His story is an inspiration to others.”
Now he has completed his theological studies degree, Mike is undertaking the last year of his ministerial training as an assistant minister at Barn Church in Culloden. Speaking about his award he said: “Any degree level study, particularly the amount of reading required in theology, presents significant challenges for a visually impaired person.
“I went into survival mode at the outset, thinking the best I could do was scrape through. Receiving this award from the staff and friends who have supported me all that way is not just an unexpected surprise, but is in some ways even better than completing the BA itself.
“I don’t feel any credit is due for my charity work as all I’ve done is follow my heart and passion. Again, I’m thankful to HTC because it was during my studies that I met fellow student Gary Torbet who founded Carpathian Aid in 1992. Our learning will equip us to be more effective mission workers for many years to come in our beloved second home, Romania.”
Mike wins £150 as the Highland Theological College UHI student of the year and will go forward as a candidate for the overall University of the Highlands and Islands student of the year award.
Photo: Higher resolution version available on request.