Humans of Lee: Tracy Freake, Student Employment Coordinator
I met with Tracy Freake in a surprisingly cozy conference room located right next to her office where she spends most of her time. She's currently the Student Employment Coordinator here at Lee.
When I glanced around the large room, I noticed a quote written on a dry erase board: “Head up, shoulders back, thoughts positive, heart set on the promises of God.” I asked Tracy if she'd written the quote.
“We have our departmental meetings in here," she said, nodding."So I just wrote it up there. I often lose sight of it, but I do think it is a good thing to live by.”
Tracy was born in England and stayed until she was nine. “I grew up playing in castle ruins," she said.
But her strong Aussie accent proves she spent the majority of her childhood and young adulthood Down Under.
“We would have these large lizards [in Australia] that were regularly infested by ticks, so as kids we would go and search them out. Then we would pick them up, take all the ticks out, and send them on their way tick-free.”
Aside from helping the Australian wildlife, Tracy had a passion for traveling. After graduating high school, she finished two years of Bible College and then worked hard to raise enough money to travel around the world for a year and a half. That year and a half of traveling unexpectedly turned into three years in which she met her future husband, had many near-death experiences, and grew in her relationship with God.
“It was a trip that was dedicated to God’s purpose. He took me places I wasn’t expecting to be and asked me to do things I hadn’t intended to do. I could go on and on with stories.”
After her traveling years came to an end, Tracy returned to Australia and got married to Michael Freake, whom she met at Oxford University near the beginning of her travels. He's currently an associate professor of biology at Lee.
I asked Tracy how they ended up in Cleveland. She laughed and said, “It’s a God thing. The whole way along it has been a God thing. That is why we can stay even though I miss Australia terribly, but it has been very clear that God wants us here.”
She went on to explain that after her husband had finished getting his doctorate degree, he was invited to do his post-doctoral research in Indiana for four years. After the four years were over, Tracy and Michael had a one-year-old daughter and a six-month-old son to take care of, and they knew moving back to Australia without a job in sight would not be a good idea. That's when Michael Freake was offered a teaching job at Lee University.
Tracy explained that the transition from Australia to the United States was not easy: “We had been in Australia at that point for five years, and as far as I was concerned, we were not going anywhere else. I had done my traveling, and I wanted to settle down in Australia and have my family. I grew up without aunts, uncles or grandparents so I really wanted that for my kids. So it has been very hard because we haven’t returned. As of next week, it will be twenty years.”
Even though it has been hard for Tracy to leave her homeland, she knows that God is in control. “I believe that my calling from God is to sacrifice to His will. There have been lots of things that I have wanted to do with my career that did not eventuate, lots of places that I’ve wanted to go that I did not get a chance to visit, things that I wanted to do, and I feel very strongly that is because God is saying, ‘well are you prepared to do what you told me you were going to do? You said that your life was mine, and now I’m using it. Are you going to rebel, or are you going to let me use you however, wherever I want to?’ That is my calling, to allow God to use me however, wherever he wants to.”
In the summer of 2015, Tracy was offered a job in the student employment office.
“I do enjoy it, and love the people I work with, but it can be a very stressful job at certain parts of the year,” she said.
As our meeting came to an end, Tracy advised the Lee community to grant themselves some grace in light of their individual futures. “It's good to strive for something," she said. "It is good to work, but if God calls you away from the plans that you have created for yourself, He has a good reason to do so.”