All in the family

by | Apr 25, 2024 | Alumni Network, Spring 2024 | 0 comments

Joseph Welch, Annie Welch, Rowan Welch and Krista West-Welch

As current Mines student Rowan Welch makes his way around the Mines campus, he often finds himself reflecting on the many family members who have come before him—and likely walked the very same paths he now takes to class each day.

Welch comes from a long line of Orediggers, spanning 124 years and counting: His father, his uncle, two of his great-grandfathers, his great-great uncle and his great-great-grandfather all earned degrees from Mines. His older sister will graduate this year.

“I think of all the people in the family who have been in the same position as me,” he said. “It motivates me to be my best self and carry on the legacy.”

The family’s roots at Mines run deep. In 1900, Stuart Latimer Bruce became the first known member of the family to graduate from Mines, followed by his brother, James Latimer Bruce, in 1901.

James Latimer Bruce went on to have a long, successful career in mining engineering and mine management. While working in Cripple Creek, he met and married a schoolteacher named Leah Hills.

Their daughter, Janet Bruce, married M. Jordan Nathason ’36, and they had a daughter of their own named Alasya Nathason. When she grew up, she married Robert H. West, the son of Randolph M. West ’37, who had been a Mines fraternity brother of M. Jordan Nathason.

Alasya Nathason and Robert H. West later had a son named Bruce H. West, who earned a degree from Mines in 1993. Bruce H. West’s sister, Krista West, met and married one of his fraternity brothers, Joseph M. Welch ’93, MS ’01.

When Joseph M. Welch and Krista West-Welch’s oldest child, Annie Alasya Welch, finishes her degree this year, she’ll be the seventh person—and the first woman—in the family with a Mines diploma.

The family tree is large and complex. But all the different generations are united by their shared love of the university, which they credit for their personal and professional successes.

“Mines creates graduates with a strong work ethic, perseverance, strong bonds of friendship and comradery,” said Krista West-Welch. “It attracts people who have a thirst for expansion of the mind and are not afraid to be challenged, humbled in defeat and still go back for more. It is no secret that Mines is rigorous, but this experience also adds to the familial dynamic. You know that many before you got through Mines, so you can too.”

The family shows off their Oredigger pride at every opportunity. They regularly wear Mines gear, have Mines bumper sticks on their cars, attend Mines football games and have hosted events for incoming first-year students and their parents.

They also help support students financially through the James L. Bruce Scholarship and the Harding-West Memorial Scholarship. The family gives back because they cherish their time at Mines—and because they want others to have the same educational opportunities they did.

They hope other Mines alumni will do the same, either by donating to existing scholarships or creating new ones.

“We all rise by helping others,” said Krista West-Welch. “Our family has always valued education, and we want to help to alleviate any obstacles for others.”