The McEniery siblings, including December’s three UQ graduates, are (from left): Rebecca (28), Ben (36), Jo (30), Belinda (20), Clare (26), Catherine (24), Dan (16) and Natasha (32).
The McEniery siblings, including December’s three UQ graduates, are (from left): Rebecca (28), Ben (36), Jo (30), Belinda (20), Clare (26), Catherine (24), Dan (16) and Natasha (32).
4 December 2013

This Queensland family shares more than just a last name on their resumes.

By the end of The University of Queensland’s December graduation season, Thomas and Leonie McEniery and seven of their eight children will all hold UQ degrees in fields ranging from medicine to arts.

Belinda, Catherine and Clare McEniery are among more than 7,000 students graduating from UQ from December 6 to 17, with ceremonies at the St Lucia, Ipswich and Gatton campuses.

Clare has cemented her UQ connection professionally, as she works in the university’s International division.

“When I was planning for my graduation it occurred to me that UQ had become an unwavering family tradition,” she said.

Her parents and her older siblings, Ben, Natasha (Morrison), Jo and Rebecca (Hanley), all graduated from the state’s largest university.

“We didn’t do it on purpose, but somehow we’ve all gone to UQ,” Clare said.

“It has definitely been a part of our upbringing.

“When we were growing up, we would play on the tennis courts and visit the running track and catch the CityCat from UQ on the weekends.

“It’s where we spent our formative years while studying, and where we became adults, choosing what we wanted to do with our lives.”

Thomas and Leonie met while studying at UQ in 1973, but Clare said there was never any parental pressure to choose UQ. Rather, the McEniery children wanted to follow in their siblings’ footsteps.

“You tend to look up to your older siblings and want to be like them,” said Clare, who completed a Master of Arts in Writing, Editing and Publishing inspired by her own love of books and her sister’s success in literary studies.

“Even though all of us are interested in such different things, we were all able to study at the same place,” she said.

Mrs McEniery champions the humanities, literature, languages and teaching, a passion passed on to Ben (barrister), Natasha (teacher), Jo (arts administrator), Clare (communications officer) and Catherine (arts and international relations graduate).

Her husband also loves poetry and literature, but he studied Medicine and a Bachelor of Economics, which is the academic strain more closely followed by Rebecca (cardiac technician) and Belinda (economics graduate).

There has been a McEniery sibling enrolled at UQ for all but one year between 1995 and 2013.

Mrs McEniery said the fridge at the family home is covered with photos, many featuring her children in classic graduate caps and gowns.

“It has become a marvelous family tradition to go to UQ,” she said.

“I think it’s remarkable that such a large family with such different interests and career choices have all chosen to attend this university.

“I loved being a student there myself, and I’m so pleased and proud that my children have all had the opportunity to study here.”

The youngest family member, 16-year-old Dan, is still considering whether he will follow in his family’s footsteps and study at UQ after finishing high school in 2014. 

This year marks 100 years of graduates at UQ since the first degrees were awarded in 1913. Queensland’s largest university has graduated more than 205,000 students, and has a proud cohort of alumni who have gone on to make their mark in more than 150 countries.

Media: UQ Communications, 07 3346 0561 or

December 2013 Graduation schedule for media:

Live coverage of the graduation ceremonies is available here: