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Durham University News



Maria is fifth of Murphy clan to graduate from Durham University

(25 June 2008)

Left to rht: Ruth, Anna, Maria, Chancellor Bill Bryson, Lucy

A Durham graduate becomes the fifth sibling in the Murphy family to collect her degree from Durham University.

The youngest of the five, Maria Murphy, joins her brother and sisters in becoming a Durham graduate, making it the first time in Durham University’s documented history that five siblings will have all graduated from Durham.

Now for the fifth time in 13 years, parents, Michael and Anne Murphy, will attend a Durham graduation ceremony for one of their children.

Eldest sibling, James (35), was the first of the Murphy family to graduate from Durham University in 1995, unknowingly setting a precedent for his four younger sisters Anna (29), Lucy (27), Ruth (25) and now Maria (21).

Although the siblings have a close relationship with one another, all sharing the same Catholic faith, they did not choose Durham University solely because of their brother and sisters’ choice.

Before deciding on Durham, the Murphy girls each considered a number of other universities, visiting open days and looking at university prospectuses. Visits to see their older siblings allowed them to experience what real life in Durham was like, helping them to make an informed decision.

Anne Murphy, mother of the Murphy clan, said: “In the end they were attracted by Durham’s collegiate system, academic excellence, traditions and sporting opportunities.”

Maria, who graduates today in Ancient History, attended University (Castle) College and was an avid netball player during her time at University. She said: “I chose to apply to Durham University because I knew it was a great place, and after visiting other places, I realised just how special Durham and Castle College in particular really were.

“At Durham there is so much on offer. The collegiate system creates a warm, friendly, familiar atmosphere and a unique sense of pride and belonging. I have greatly enjoyed and contributed to life both inside and outside college during my three years here, and I feel that being the fifth sibling to come to Durham serves to show what a wonderful and special place Durham truly is.”

As well as choosing the same university, the siblings, who hail from Loughborough, continued to make similar choices whilst at university. During their time at Durham, all five were active within the University’s Catholic community. All four sisters were part of University (Castle) College, three of them studied theology for their degree and three played for the netball club.

All four Durham graduates have gone onto successful careers. James is a chartered accountant with Deloitte and Touche; Anna is a clerk in the House of Lords; and Lucy and Ruth are both school teachers in Loughborough. After graduating, Maria will take a year out to do volunteer work abroad before pursuing a career possibly in museum work or teaching.

With five grandchildren already, Anne hopes there may be more Murphy graduates before too long. “I would love to think of my grandchildren attending the university and being equally as happy,” she says.

Anne said: “There have been so many positive things about Durham University that my husband and I are both really sad that their time in Durham has come to an end. Durham has played a major part in all our lives.

“Our children have all matured into well-rounded, happy and fulfilled adults and we are immensely proud of each of them and grateful to Durham University for giving them opportunities that they have all enjoyed so much.”

Chancellor of the University, Bill Bryson said: “This is a tremendous accolade for Durham University The fact that five siblings have all independently chosen to study here speaks volumes.

“The University, as well as the city itself, is truly remarkable: A wonderfully intimate and supportive community, an amazingly vibrant and active student body, and of course, an astounding reputation for academic excellence. It is no wonder that these five siblings have chosen to study at Durham – I applaud their choice.”

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