UL community remembers, honors Brad Wedlock
University of Louisiana at Lafayette students and staff, as well as family and friends, remembered student Brad Wedlock as a jack-of-all-trades scholar who served as the “go-to guy” in any project.
Wedlock, 28, was set to receive his doctorate in educational foundations and leadership in summer before he died in a car crash on West Congress Boulevard. He was also working towards his master’s degree in elementary and special education.
Known by some as a scholar-in-training and by others as Brad Striker, a personality on Hot 107.9 from 2010-2012, known for his boisterous, bubbly spirit.
“He was the perfect balance of scholar, friend, brother, son and DJ that brought an immense amount of joy into this world,” said Masey Hammons, also a doctoral student in education.
The Ville Platte native was involved in a fiery crash when he was rear-ended by a man supposedly speeding around 1:45 p.m. April 3 and was pronounced dead at the scene. Joseph Richey, a 24-year-old Duson native, was arrested and charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI), vehicular homicide, speeding, reckless operation, misuse of a two-way center turn lane, seatbelt violation, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Richey has previously been charged with OWI.
Wedlock’s friends and family organized a candlelight vigil in his honor, where around 100 of Wedlock’s friends, family, colleagues shared stories about him in front of the Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning April 6. The memories shared were punctuated by laughter as much as they were sniffles, as people ages five through 60 stood in front of those connected to the late student.
The studious soundboard manager was a 2012 graduate in media studies and a 2014 graduate in the public relations, advertising and applied communication master’s program. According to his LinkedIn, Wedlock was also an adjunct communication instructor at South Louisiana Community College.
Lucian Dinu, Ph.D., dean of the communication department, said he remembered Wedlock as a voracious student who devoured any challenge.
“He came to ask me a question about the paper, so I was thinking, ‘Oh, gee, I don’t have time for this,’” Dinu said. “I asked him to make a lot of changes, and I thought that should be enough for him not to come back for another week or so. The next morning, who’s waiting for me? It’s Brad.”
Wedlock also spent time as a teaching assistant, research assistant and, to some, a bastion of motivation. His work led him away from the wetlands occasionally: he presented in Hawaii and Morocco and planned on presenting his proposal in Egypt with Phil Auter, the communication department’s graduate coordinator. Auter said if the program accepts Wedlock’s proposal, he will propose his work in Wedlock’s honor.
“His expertise and his experiences continue on, and he’s going to be greatly missed,” he said.
Wedlock also was briefly a broadcasting student. William Davie, Ph.D., associate professor of mass communication and coordinator for the broadcasting program at UL Lafayette, said Wedlock stuck out immediately during his undergrad.
“When we got the news on Brad’s passing, it was remarkable to me that everyone in the building knew and loved Brad,” he said. “You couldn’t help but to, because he was looking for ways to solve problems and to help people.”
“He was just everywhere all through the department,” he said. “He got to know faculty, he got to know undergraduate students, master’s students — wherever he went, he lit up the room and he was the spark that started many conversations and many interactions.”
Davie compared Wedlock to a “Connector,” a model person Malcolm Gladwell described in his book, “The Tipping Point,” as a trendsetter who thrives off human interaction and sits at the center of a dense network of interlocking relationships.
“Most of us are conduits,” Davie said. “We have our circle, but we don’t have this sort of broad reach.”
He said Wedlock could most likely be found with his friends Nagham Elkarhili, a Ph.D. student, and Hammons. Hammons said although the trio frequently argued about religion and politics, Wedlock could always restore order.
“Brad had a way of making everyone feel special,” she said.
“No matter what you needed, he was always there,” said Dianne Olivier, Ph.D., an associate education professor. “He was the one that you didn’t have to say, ‘This is what I need and this is how you do it;” you just say, ‘This is what I need,’ and he always figured out how to do it.”
The communication department announced a scholarship created in Wedlock’s honor at the vigil and asked for donations. Dinu said the department members would like to create an endowed scholarship; a permanent fund that serves as a support for students. Organizers behind the vigil requested donations be made to the scholarship, as well as invited people to write letters to Wedlock’s family.
“We’re going to miss him, but we have a lot of people left behind who are really going to need everybody’s support to get through this,” said Maria Ruiz, Ph.D., an assistant professor of education.