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In Her Own Backyard

HillaryMurdoch

Photo courtesy of Hilary (Herbein) Murdoch ’16

Hilary (Herbein) Murdoch ’16

Hanging out at the Campus Center’s bowling alley, playing pool and munching on burgers and fries at “The Sub” (now Jake’s Place), a young Hilary (Herbein) Murdoch ’16 and her friends knew the Albright campus as a fun place to explore. “Albright was home,” says Murdoch.

Yet growing up a few blocks away also allowed for some temptations. “I was in ninth grade when I  attended my first Albright sorority party,” says Murdoch, whose mom, Susan (Palm) Murdoch ’64, and sister, class of ’87, also attended Albright. In spite of the family connections, Murdoch did not consider applying to Albright. “When I was ready to go to college, I was too adventurous to stay in my backyard,” she says.

Searching to satisfy her independent spirit, Murdoch spent the next few decades attending six colleges and changing her major four times; working as a waitress, florist, dental lab technician, jewelry designer, manager of a mini-mart and laboring in a battery factory. “Life is hard,” she says of her roller coaster ride through adulthood.

Even after she married, bought a home and settled into her 20-year career as a multi-media director at an investment firm in the Philadelphia suburbs, Murdoch’s eclectic spirit prevailed. “I started a paranormal research group, went on fossil excavations in several states, dug up dinosaur bones in Montana, and searched for the graves of Irish railroad workers who died of cholera in the 1830s,” she says.

Then, she returned “home” and found what she had been looking for all along right in her backyard. She enrolled in Albright’s School of Professional Studies (SPS) for a degree in psychology.

The program was a good fit for Murdoch. “My varied life experiences helps me notice and analyze people’s behavior,” she says. When selecting the subject of her capstone research project, she delved into her childhood for her topic – sibling rivalry. “I believe what happens in life guides you,” she says. “My mom, a science teacher, was  competitive. The over-achieving environment was not best to foster a good sibling relationship.” Her mom passed away when Murdoch was 19 years-old. At that time, she  says her relationship with her sibling became rocky.

As an SPS student, Murdoch was invited to present her research, “Sibling Rivalry: Considerations of Gender and Life Stage,” at the 125th annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C. Her research was featured on livescience.com, Yahoo News, Huffington Post, and several online news outlets.

Ready for her next adventure, Murdoch, 49, is pursuing a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling at Immaculata University

– Linda Mecca Green ’08