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Cookstown siblings’ pride as they graduate from Queen’s on same day


Alison and Emma McAllen are both graduating today from Queen’s University

Alison and Emma McAllen are both graduating today from Queen’s University

Alison and Emma McAllen are both graduating today from Queen’s University

Two Co Tyrone sisters have spoken of their pride at graduating today with medical degrees from Queen’s University.

Alison McAllen (28) and her 23-year-old sister Emma, from Cookstown, will both receive their bachelor’s degrees, after helping each other out throughout their studies.

Back in 2011, Alison started at Queen’s and completed a Master of Science degree, before pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor.

She said that, when she was completing her maths degree, she realised that her “true passion” lay in medicine.

“I was lucky enough to be able to share this experience with my sister Emma who was also beginning her journey at Queen’s to become a doctor,” she said. “Some of our highlights at Queen’s are the times we travelled to Belfast on a Sunday night together, being able to practice our OSCEs with each other which helped us prepare for the clinical and communication aspects of becoming a doctor and helping each other study for our exams.

“We enjoyed being in the same lectures, and because of our surnames, we were in the same tutorial groups at Queen’s. It was fantastic to be able to share our experiences of becoming doctors together. I am so proud of us both graduating today.”

The two sisters will begin work in August at Belfast City Hospital as junior doctors. Alison is starting in nephrology while Emma will start working in medical oncology. 

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Today, however, they will be celebrating their graduation at home with their family.

Other graduates today include Madina Sharifova (19), who arrived in Belfast from Azerbaijan aged 16. She has received several awards for both her academic and extracurricular endeavours and has achieved a First Class Honours in Biomedical Sciences.

She said: “I met lots of other international students at Queen’s and very quickly felt like Belfast was my ‘home away from home’. I worked really hard but was still very surprised to hear I won a scholarship at the end of my first year.”

Madina hopes to find work in a laboratory in the UK that she can begin after graduation.

Meanwhile, Frances Logan, from Holywood, will receive a First Class Honours in International Politics and Conflict Studies. The 23-year-old has overcome adversity to achieve her degree. At the age of 19 Frances was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia while studying at St Andrew’s University in Scotland. She returned to Belfast for treatment and applied to study at Queen’s from hospital. After graduating, she will take up a place at the University of Glasgow to study for her Masters in Public Policy and Management.

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