Mother and son share graduation

Margi MacMurdo-Reading and her son, Walker MacMurdo, prepare to graduate from the University of Otago today. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Margi MacMurdo-Reading and her son, Walker MacMurdo, prepare to graduate from the University of Otago today. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Graduation from the University of Otago will be a family affair for Margi MacMurdo-Reading and her son Walker MacMurdo today.

Mrs MacMurdo-Reading will graduate with a PhD in humanities and Mr MacMurdo will gain an LLB and a BA (Hons) in philosophy at the latest Otago University graduation ceremony, to be held at 3pm at the Dunedin Town Hall.

About 320 people will graduate in person, mainly in humanities disciplines.

Ms MacMurdo-Reading, who was born in the US and works part-time in the university central library, has enjoyed studying at the same university as her son.

''We were both very supportive to each other.''

They had enjoyed a shared family breakfast each Sunday and also met once a week at the university staff club for coffee and a chat.

And she is delighted to be graduating on the same day as her son.

''It feels like a great crowning achievement.''

She had owned a successful landscape design business in Minnesota for 10 years before shifting to Dunedin with her husband and two sons in 2004.

One of the toughest things about her PhD study had been the relative isolation involved in pursuing it, by contrast with the larger number of fellow students involved in some of her earlier university studies.

But her husband, Mark Reading - a ''Kiwi from Invercargill''- had been supportive during her latest studies, which had focused on surveillance and aspects of conscience in visual culture, including films, painting and television.

''Without him, I couldn't have done it, I don't think,'' she said.

Mr MacMurdo said it would be a special occasion to be graduating together - ''it will be neat having her there''. They have both done a lot more at university than simply study.

She has previously served as the postgraduate representative on the Otago University Students' Association executive (2008-09).

And he was OUSA's humanities representative on the executive in 2010, and wrote a humorous political column in Critic (2009-10).

Earlier a fine arts graduate of Kent State University, Ohio, she gained an Otago masters degree in French in 2008 before starting her PhD.

Mr MacMurdo plans to undertake further legal study in the US, and to eventually go into legal practice there.

She is keeping an open mind about the future, plans to stay busy and is looking for opportunities, including abroad.