Yvonne Murphy is thoroughly enjoying life as a second year student of Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois
Clonmel’s twinning link with the American city of Peoria has helped open up a whole new world in the United States for a young Tipperary woman.
Following two visits to Peoria with her sisters Jenny and Lorraine as part of The Murphys, a traditional Irish music group that accompanied Clonmel’s twinning committee on the trips to the US, Yvonne Murphy from Ardfinnan received a music scholarship to Bradley University in Peoria, where she is also studying cyber security since August 2019.
Currently in the second year of the course, Yvonne says the move to Illinois to pursue her studies is “a dream come true” and one that she is absolutely loving.
A past pupil of Loreto secondary school in Clonmel, Yvonne and her sisters travelled to Peoria in 2018 with the Clonmel twinning committee.
They performed at various events, including Erin Feis, an outdoor Irish culture music festival held in America each summer.
There they met other Irish bands including the High Kings as part of what Yvonne describes as “an unforgettable experience.”
She says that she and her sisters stayed with “fabulous hosts,” Jim and Laurie Dillon, who organised trips and events.
“I was very interested in visiting the local Bradley University, and as Jim Dillon is the mayor of West Peoria he arranged for us to meet with some of the university’s professors and lecturers,” she says.
“They gave us a tour of the campus and explained college life in America. I was fascinated with the college and the wonderful facilities there, and hoped that I would return to Bradley after completing my Leaving Cert exam.”
While looking into CAO courses on offer in Ireland and exploring all of the different pathway options, Yvonne says her heart was set on studying in America.
“Jim Dillon and Rex Linder kept in contact with me during my Leaving Cert year with regard to my application process for Bradley, and I’m very grateful for their assistance.”
The daughter of Margaret and Jim Murphy, Yvonne says she was “over the moon” when she received the email to confirm her place in the college.
“I chose to study cyber security, as I have always had an interest in technology, and I felt this course would be interesting and relevant in many professions.
“I am also doing lots of singing on behalf of the college. I am a member of the Bradley choir and I love performing for musical events here at Bradley.
“I’m staying with Jim and Laurie Dillon, who always make me feel so welcome. Living with them (and their dog Bella) is like a home away from home, and I am so delighted that they have taken me under their wing.
“In the beginning, it was daunting travelling to a new college so far away.
“However, Jim and Laurie always go above and beyond to bring me to different events to meet new people. I have made lifelong friends from many different countries and experienced lots that America has to offer, from social events in Jimmy’s Bar to debates and campaigns about the presidential election.
“There is never a dull moment here and I am so privileged to be a part of life in the US.”
Because of Covid-19, the college is mainly closed at present, but fortunately Yvonne can continue her studies online.
She also has some physical lectures each week and says she’s thrilled to be in a position to continue her studies online.
“I am very grateful to the twin town committees in Peoria and Clonmel, especially Jacinta Gavigan and Aidan Fennessy in Clonmel; my parents Jim and Margaret and everybody who has made this experience possible.
“I am enjoying living in America and learning lots of new skills in Bradley University,” says Yvonne.
The Murphy sisters also travelled to Eysines in France with the Clonmel twinning committee in 2014 and 2019.
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