Perseverance Delivers Degree & Fulfilment for Tania Murphy nee Van Heer

Tania Murphy’s Memo to Michael Roberts in Response to Request**

Hope you have had a great week so far! I have enclosed the uni letter. I, however, have already sent you some insights on my athletics journey a few days ago.

As for my university experience, I started out wanting to gain a qualification to enable me to secure permanent employment and realised that I had to get a university qualification to enable this to happen. I had put this part of my life on hold because of my commitments to athletics and the traveling that came with it. Later on, when I had a family and put it on hold again and then, one day, I had a conversation in the gym I worked at with another member about her son’s involvement with international development. Prior to this day, I did not know a degree like this existed. After learning about this degree from this lady, I realised what I wanted to study.

Aug 1999: Portrait of Tania Van Heer of Australia during the 200 Metres at the 1999 World Championships held at the Estadio Olimpico in Seville, Spain. Mandatory Credit: Gary M Prior/Allsport


But it was the Madeleine McCann story that pushed me to do it. The possibility to work on the ground in a country to help track down missing children or work to help children and families heal from the ordeal really interested me. I always knew I wanted to work to bring change in developing countries. This, indeed, is one of the areas of work that interest me.

Uni was extremely challenging because I had very limited computer skills and struggled to navigate my way around to even to begin to do the assignments. Then Covid hit and it made matters worse when everything went online and I had to learn how to engage in zoom meetings and navigate my way in group discussion in break-out groups. I did receive a certificate from the University of Adelaide at the beginning of my second year for perseverance.  I was really happy to receive this as I felt that the University appreciated just how difficult things were and they acknowledged it.

There were many frustrating moments and many late nights getting assignments done and studying for online tests and finishing off essays. I was studying full-time, working part-time, and managing a full household while also having to drive my son to his athletics training and competitions around Adelaide and Australia. I felt guilty on many weekends and evenings during the week as I did not spend much time with my husband. He was incredibly supportive and at some stage during my second year started cooking dinner so I could keep up my studies to make up for the distractions during the day. I wore many hats during the day. I was a student, coach, mother, wife, and daughter to the many family members and the family’s needs around me.

I had awesome support from the amazing lecturers who knew I enjoyed studying and worked hard, but lacked the writing, researching, and referencing skills to attain the level of competence that I strived for…to learn all I could so I could be effective in my job.

Three years later after much frustration and struggle, I finally finished what I had started. Now I am so very grateful to the University of Adelaide for giving me a chance to improve my life and to provide every chance to succeed.  I am forever changed for the better and feel empowered to make a real difference in the lives of people when the opportunity presents itself. I am the girl once from the periphery who can now with the right opportunity hopefully ‘pay it forward’.

Hope this reflection helps, ………… take care, Tania

A NOTE from Michael Roberts, 1 December 2022

I had a couple of telephone chats with Tania in late November and featured her athletic ‘work’ and success in Thuppahi: see

Before meeting up with her at a library and gaining insights into her life’s journey. Though I am attached to the University of Adelaide I retired long ago circa 2003/04 and do not havwe close contact with its staff or activities now –though I know Benito Cao and Gerry Groot, two of the lecturers who inspired Tania.

This entry is an encomium on my part for her enthusiasm, courage and determination (qualities which served her well in athletics and then in life).

The University of Adelaide Golden Key Recognition, 2022


A001808:  Tania Murphy, 6 Scott Street, SEFTON PARK SA 5083

21 July 2022

Dear Tania

It is my pleasure to congratulate you on your excellent academic results. This wonderful achievement makes you eligible to join the Golden Key International Honour Society.

The University of Adelaide Chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society is organised and run by students for students, with support from Golden Key. While your strong academic record qualifies you for membership and I commend its objectives to you, you are not obliged to join. Golden Key does not access your academic records and if you choose not to join, they have no record of your contact details.

Golden Key is the world’s largest academic honour society, with chapters in over 400 universities around the world. Its purpose is to develop networks among high achieving students from diverse backgrounds and reinforce student contact with academic staff. It also encourages

its members to participate in leadership and community service activities. In addition, Golden Key has awarded over USD$16 million in scholarships and awards exclusively to members.

For more information visit the Golden Key International Honour Society website at or email

Once again, congratulations on your academic achievements and your eligibility for membership to the Golden Key International Honour Society. I wish you all the best for your continuing success and future endeavours.

Yours sincerely


Interim Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Learning)

Office of Academic and Student Engagement

Level 7, Kenneth Wills Building, The University of Adelaide SA 5005 AUSTRALIA

Tel: +6188313 4001 Fax: +6188313 8333


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