Press release

Family connection adds up to joy for Maths graduate Cara

Published on 28 June 2022

In her 51 years working at the University, Muriel Duncan has witnessed royal visits, met countless dignitaries, and befriended thousands of students from around the world but her proudest moment yet will come at this year's Graduation.

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Muriel’s granddaughter, Cara Duncan, graduated with a Mathematics degree from the University last year, but Covid restrictions meant the traditional Graduation ceremonies could not take place for the classes of 2020 and 2021.

Those students have now been invited back to Dundee to enjoy the in-person graduation experience at Caird Hall alongside family, friends, and classmates. Cara’s ceremony will take place on Tuesday 28 June, and one of the University’s best-known faces will be in the audience when she crosses the stage to receive her degree.

Muriel (88) joined the University as a clerical assistant in 1971 and worked in a variety of roles before a failed, 10-week attempt at retirement saw her return as receptionist at the Tower Building. That was in 2000, and she holds the same post to this day.

Muriel’s job meant Cara (23) was familiar with the campus long before she set foot onto it as a student.

“I used to come here to visit my grandma at her work and I’d get shown around so I knew she was an institution at the University,” she said. “I think I was the only student never to get lost on campus! If I didn’t know where I was going, I would go to see her at her desk and ask where a particular building or room was. It was really nice to be able to pop in and see grandma at any time.”

No sooner will next week have passed when Cara begins looking forward to her next Graduation. She has just completed her training as a secondary school teacher and will receive her postgraduate degree at the University’s Winter Graduation ceremony this November, having already secured a probationary post at a local school.

“I have always liked working with kids and decided in the third year of my degree that I was going to go into teaching,” she continued. “Obviously things haven’t been easy in the last couple of years. My teacher training year was fine, but the last two years of my maths degree were really affected by Covid. Maths isn’t an easy subject to learn remotely, and it was particularly difficult when it came to doing my dissertation and there was no one else around to speak to about it.

“I’m so happy to have got through it all and to have a job to look forward to at the end of it. It will be nice to have everyone together for the ceremony – we weren’t able to graduate at the time but had a family party to celebrate when I passed my course, as the restrictions allowed.”

Cara is not the first member of her family to have followed Muriel’s path to the University, with her cousin, Kristi James, also being a Dundee graduate now studying at the London Veterinary College. Their grandmother says she was delighted that both Kristi and Cara chose to study at Dundee, and admits she is likely to shed a tear or two at next week’s Graduation.

“I was very lucky that both studied at Dundee and used to come to see me,” said Muriel. “Mind you, I also used to see Cara flying through the building when she was late for class and I would be shaking my head at her. I’m very proud of my grandchildren, and I’m sure it will be very emotional to watch Cara graduate.”


Grant Hill

Senior Public Affairs Officer

+44 (0)1382 384768