Our alumni take on many different paths after they graduate from Lake Erie College, and for quite a few of them the path takes them across oceans and to new countries and opportunities. One such alumna is Darcy Murphy, who currently lives and works in Gloucestershire, England.
Originally from Marion, Iowa, Darcy graduated from Lake Erie in 2009 with her bachelor of science degree with a major in equine teaching and training. She arrived at LEC after searching for a school that would combine higher education with her passion for horses.
"I knew that I wanted more experience and better training in the [equine] field and my parents really wanted me to have a college education,” she said. "So we compromised on colleges where I could study horses but would receive a quality liberal arts education.” After narrowing her list down to a couple of different schools, they visited Lake Erie College and the other competitor. "After touring both, LEC stood out as the place where I would feel at home away from home, and that is exactly what [it] became.”
While at Lake Erie, Darcy got involved with the equine studies program and all the opportunities to gain additional experience it offered her. "I was a member of the Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) and was a riding member of the 2006 National Reserve Team,” she said. She continued on to become the president of IDA in 2006-2007. She was also a member of the Students Acting For the Environment (SAFE) student organization, and also assisted with scribing for the judges of many of the dressage shows that took place at LEC.
The Lake Erie experience that has influenced her life and career the most, however, was the decision to do a study abroad program in Hartpury College located in Hartpury, Gloucestershire, England. Not only did the trip introduce her to the institution where she would later go on to pursue her graduate degree and then be invited to join the faculty at the Higher Education Equine Lecturing team, but it also contributed to her meeting her husband, Chris.
Currently Darcy teaches equine behavior, reproduction, equestrian practice and management of facilities and horses at Hartpury. "I am the personal tutor for around 80 students, recruit volunteers for some of the large equine events on site or in the area, and am developing my research profile,” she said. Some of the events she recruits volunteers for are the Blue Chip Show Jumping and NAF 5* Dressage Winter Championships and Mitsubishi Badminton Trial (4*3DE).
"The best part of the whole job is studying the topic area I am passionate about and watching students learn to question the world around them and consider the ethics of their actions,” she said. "I miss the day-to-day horse contact and teaching riding, but hopefully this will be remedied, soon and I teach such practical modules that I get much more involved with the horses than any other ‘normal’ job.”
Darcy and her now-husband Chris, whom she married in 2012, also provide home to Darcy’s horse, Joker. Joker was the horse Darcy purchased in 2005 and brought to live and train at LEC, and afterwards moved him to England where he is now in retirement from competition for medical reasons. He spends his time, as she says, eating, socializing and being a pampered pet. Joker is yet another connection Darcy has to Lake Erie, and only one of the favorite memories she took with her.
"[I remember] winning the Presidents Challenge Cup on LEC Ocetra or [the] IDA Nationals, [and] summer evenings after work, grazing my horse under the tree by the drive to the Manor House that looks out to Lake Erie,” she said. She also fondly remembers the campus squirrels and all their antics.
"LEC was invaluable to my career, and it has taken a few years to really appreciate how much,” Darcy said. "Not only was I given the knowledge and practical skills of my major subject, but [also] what is most valuable – the ability to question, debate, form an opinion and make use of [my] liberal arts education.”
Her advice to our current students? "It is not just about the knowledge and your class choice, but the experience you have that you really use later in life. LEC lets you explore your subject and yourself, so get involved, ask questions and have an experience of which you can be proud.”