Wendy Murphy Memorial Award

The award will be made annually to a returning Psychology graduate student based on consistent academic excellence and collegiality. The candidate will be nominated by a selection committee appointed by the Psychology Department.

Value: $3,500

Donor: Family and friends of Wendy Murphy

Established: 1998

Wendy Murphy Memorial Award

The Wendy Murphy Memorial Award was created by her friends and family in 1997. The recipient is the returning Psychology graduate student who best exemplifies the characteristics that made Wendy both an excellent scholar and exceptional person. In other words, s/he must possess both “a good head and a good heart”. What follows is a brief history of Wendy to give you a sense of why she was chosen as the inspiration for the Psychology department’s first graduate award.

The fact that Wendy even attended university is inspiring. Wendy had been a top student and star athlete as a child but developed a neuromuscular disease when she was 11 that left her near death several times and essentially confined to a bed or wheelchair for years. She was, at various times, not expected to survive or walk again. Repeated bouts of illness, hospitalizations, chemotherapy and other (often experimental) medical treatments made her very weak and affected her memory, making it impossible to attend school for over 5 years.

Eventually she defied the odds and through sheer determination, physiotherapy, self learning and home schooling finished grades 8-12 on her own at home, then returned to high school for grade 13 (earning a scholarship to attend university) and regained almost full use of her legs by the time she was 19.

Wendy chose to attend Brock University and was eventually associated with the school for over 10 years. She originally earned a degree in English between 1986 and 1990 before discovering her true calling, Psychology. She earned a second bachelors degree in 1993 and then a Masters degree in 1995 (as a member of the first graduate class in Psychology). During this time she earned top grades, worked as a seminar leader in several courses, tutored fellow students, worked as a research assistant in several labs, served as departmental student representative and was the recipient of multiple awards and scholarships (internal, provincial and national).

Wendy loved everything about academics; the learning, teaching, research and camaraderie. What really made Wendy special was that in addition to her academic abilities, she was also a very warm, caring and sincere person. She has been described at the “heart” of that first graduate class. She was always looking out for others, making sure everyone was taken care of and was happy (or at least as happy as any first year grad student could be).

Wendy was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia in December 1996 just after beginning her Ph.D. studies at the University of Waterloo. She approached this obstacle with the same resolve and determination she displayed earlier in her life. Following three months of hospitalization and chemotherapy Wendy was pronounced free of the disease by the following March. Unfortunately, the years of illness and medical treatment had taken their toll and she passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on March 26 1997 from a suspected heart arrhythmia.

Even during this illness Wendy again demonstrated both her academic and interpersonal strengths. She volunteered for (and discussed the methodological flaws in) a drug trial as well as being asked to become a peer councilor for newly admitted Leukemia patients. Two patients were especially touched by Wendy. One was an 18 year old girl who came from a troubled home, was living on her own when diagnosed and was very frightened.

Wendy helped her deal with her treatment and her fears as well as resolving some major life concerns. The other was a man who had the same rare form of Leukemia who was admitted just a few weeks before Wendy. The two of them bonded quickly and became close friends. They encouraged each other through all their treatments and he remains one of the biggest supporters of an annual golf tournament that continues to raise funds for the Wendy Murphy Memorial Award.

This award helps keep Wendy’s memory alive and provides a deserving student with financial support to help him/her to pursue further academic goals just as she did.

Recipients of the Award

1998 – Mary-Claire Ferlisi

1999 – Amanda Wintink

2000 – Tammy McKenzie

2001 – Alison Duff

2002 – Kelly Campbell

2004 – Karen Mathewson

2005 – Becky Choma

2006 – Beth Visser

2007 – Colin Perrier & William Tays

2008 – Narnia Worth

2009 – Kimberly Costello & Xin (Reno) Zheng

2010 – Marie Good

2011 – Chloe Hamza & Mary MacLean

2012 – Angela Dzyundzyak & Julie St. Cyr-Baker

2013 – Sean Robb

2014 – Christine (Lackner) Malyk & Alicia Rubel

2015 – Mark Hoffarth & Malvina Skorska

2016 – Josh Black & Kevin Mulvihill

2017 – Nathalie Gauthier & Kevin MacDonald

2018 – Caitlyn Gallant & Taylor Heffer

2019 – Jennifer Roters and Dawn Ryan

2020 – Kari Lustig and Elliot MacDonell

2021 – Kristen Baker and Elvira Prusaczyk

2022 – Emily Davis & Xiaoyang (Nick) Xia