"The liberal arts aspect is amazing, and there are so many different and diverse student clubs and organizations you can explore. St. Ambrose is a great place to find out who you are."
As a first-year student, Murphy planned to major in engineering. Yet, after one required general education art class, associate professor Joseph Lappie, MFA, recognized her talent and asked if she'd consider a minor in art. His continued support and encouragement gave her the courage to change her major and pursue her passion and creativity. At St. Ambrose, you get so many opportunities to grow and explore.
Home Town: Elburn, Illinois
Murphy places a high value on education. Her father grew up in rural Mexico; school was two hours away, making it impossible to continue his education. He came to the U.S. when he was 18 and took some community college classes, but he missed out on a full school experience. Her mother is an art teacher and while her parents came from different educational backgrounds, they shared the same message: "Education is really important, and my dad was always pushing us to learn and try new things. That became my biggest push to become the first Garcia in my family to graduate college," she says. Murphy was awarded two endowed scholarships, worked as a Resident Advisor, and absolutely enjoyed the full Ambrosian experience.
Murphy wanted to attend a small, private university, so when her brother's friends recommended she visit campus, she did. "The first time I was here, I knew this was the place for me. A focus on the liberal arts was one of the biggest things I looked for, and at SAU it provided me the opportunity to pursue my passion. I think students need to observe their artsy side – whether it's music, the humanities, writing, or art – and when the liberal arts are woven into general education requirements, they become appreciated and enhanced."
How were you involved at SAU, and how did it change you?
Murphy participated in Dance Marathon, Art Club, Art History Club, dance company, and was a member of the Multicultural Club, LULAC, and served as a peer campus minister. She also studied abroad in Spain. At SAU, she followed her passion and discovered who she is. "SAU is a very close-knit campus. You see someone you know every step you take. There are so many different clubs and organizations provided, offered, or started here by students. I preach St. Ambrose to as many people as I can. It is a great place to find out who you are because of the amazing opportunities."
What's the Impact of Your SAU Expereince
"My first year, I tried a bunch of different things to see what I liked and what I didn’t like. I didn't know who I was or who I wanted to be." But with support and encouragement from her professors, friends, and family, she decided to make her passion a career. "I love art. I am not going to deny it."
Why Choose Spanish, Art History and Book Arts?
After that first art class, Murphy sat down with Professor Lappie to learn more about SAU's fine art programs. "I had always painted on my own, but I was more interested in learning skills I didn't have. He suggested a papermaking class, and that course opened my eyes to all of my possibilities." To become more immersed in Art History, Murphy did an internship at the Figge Art Museum and she spent a semester in Spain. Study Abroad is required for all Spanish majors, but it's an opportunity offered to all students. For Murphy, her time in Spain was educational and explorational. "It was a great opportunity, and it was the type of homework I really wanted to do."