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Three’s company for family graduation

Three’s company for family graduation
You would think if three siblings were studying sciences at the same university at the same time, they would bump into each other in the corridors from time to time.

But Finnian Smith (26) and sisters Matigan (23) and Ciara (22) Smith said it never happened during their studies at the University of Otago over the past three years.

Saturday was the first time “in ages” that the Whangārei trio were all in the same place at the same time — for their graduation.

Finnian graduated with a master of science with distinction in physics; Matigan graduated with a master of science with distinction in microbiology; and Ciara graduated with a bachelor of science, majoring in marine science and zoology.

Finnian said they never planned to graduate together, but circumstances intervened.

“It just kind of happened that way.”

He said he was mid-way through his masters when he had to have back surgery for a slipped disk, so he was later finishing than he planned.

When it became clear Ciara was due to graduate this year also, Matigan decided to “up the pace” of her masters study so the three of them could graduate together.

The trio said it was great to study sciences at the same time.

Occasionally, two out of the three would catch up and share science knowledge.

“It was cool to be able to talk about sciences with each other — we’ve kind of had a very similar path in the sciences,” Finnian said.

They were all able to support each other and give advice on certain topics.

The trio gravitated towards the University of Otago because their family had a strong link to the institution.

Their older sister Greagh Smith (28) graduated from Otago with a bachelor of arts majoring in history and media film and communication.

Their grandfather Philip Smith, their father Michael and their uncle Nick all graduated from the law school, and their aunt, Phillipa Smith, graduated from the business school.

“There’s a big family history with Otago,” Finnian said.

Many of them were in Dunedin at the weekend to celebrate the trio’s graduations.

“It was a big occasion and it was great to have family there for that.”

Finnian said it was particularly special for him because he graduated from his undergraduate degrees in absentia during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It was my one and only graduation walk across the stage after six years at Otago.

“It was very exciting for me.”


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