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Queen's University Belfast graduate keeps it in the family

By Joanne Sweeney

It's a case of keeping it in the family for new Masters graduate Jessica Kirk.

Not only did the Belfast woman graduate yesterday with a second degree from Queen's, her success is another major accolade for her super-smart family.

Once her youngest sister graduates next summer, it will mean that all her family will have achieved degrees from the university.

Before her Masters in Management, Jessica graduated in Law in 2009, and her sisters Rebekah McCartney and Naomi McClelland graduated in Medicine in 2008 and 2010 respectively.

Their father, Dr Stephen Kirk, graduated in 1982 in Medicine and later completed a doctorate in 1991, while their mother Linda graduated in History and English in 1978.

Youngest sister Meghan is currently in her final year at Queen's studying Law.

After graduating in 2009, Jessica returned to Queen's the following year as vice president of the Students' Union.

The 24-year-old followed that up with her MSc in Management during which she not only gained a post-graduate seat on the Student Council but became the sole student representative on Queen's Senate.

She said: "I suppose there is a level of healthy competition between us all as there is in any family.

"There really no real desire to go anywhere else as I had my heart set on going there, having seen my sisters come up through it and my parents going there."

She added: "I have loved every minute of my time at Queen's University."

Jessica has already started working with BrandNI, an organisation dedicated to fostering local talent and entrepreneurial skills, with an ambition to make Northern Ireland the talent capital of the world by 2030.

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