Carolyn Graham (1973)

In February 1973, I entered Queen’s College as a naive seventeen-year-old. I didn’t know the makeup of the College: I didn’t realise that I was part of the first cohort of women into Queen’s, or even that you didn’t need to be in bed by a given time. I have fond memories of going to the ‘bughouse’ in togas (i.e., a sheet), learning to drink beer at an intercollegiate barbeque at Trinity, and throwing water bombs from the tower at unsuspecting cars driving round the entrance.

The College was made up of forty-three women and one hundred and thirty-five men. Very soon friendships were formed, relationships started and the the joy of connection soon became obvious. While groups evolved, there was still an openness to mix with women and men. In summer after lunch, cricket in the quadrangle was the popular activity. It was inclusive. Cricketers, cricket tragics, and total non-performers were all invited to participate. This was the Queen’s ethos.

With my great mate ‘Jexy’ Heather Carr (1973), we organised Queen’s women’s participation in intercollegiate sport. The enthusiasm was such that even though we were just a small number of women, we offered a team for each sport. I’ll never forget the women’s football team, playing in the mud. Some girls had never touched a football and talent was hard to spot, but we did manage equal best on ground, ‘Jexy’ and I.

While my first 12 months in Queen’s was one big party with little work undertaken, I was influenced academically to seek challenges. Initially I undertook a Diploma of Physical Education, in second year, I doubled my workload and commenced a Bachelor of Arts, which I completed while teaching. Later, I undertook a Master of Health. These qualifications saw me move from teaching into research and evaluation in the health sector.

I am now retired, but am still connected to health initiatives. My health has not always been positive but my friends from Queen’s College have always stood by me. For this, I feel most grateful.

I realise that the central impact of living at Queen’s College is the understanding that everybody has a story. That regardless of gender, sexuality, race, age or skill level, each person is as important as the next person, and from this I learnt to connect with openness and gratitude.

For me, the power of friendship, the enduring nature of friendship and the elements of friendship are all a legacy from my time at Queen’s, and I have carried these gems forward wherever I have travelled.

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