University awards tragic Nicola Furlong’s degree to her tearful family
The heartbroken family of murdered college student Nicola Furlong broke down in tears at her class’s graduation in DCU.
Nicola’s sister Andrea, 19, collected Nicola’s degree in International Business and Languages during a ceremony in the Helix on Saturday.
The audience in DCU erupted into applause to honour the Wexford student, who was strangled to death while on an exchange programme in Japan.
Angie, Nicola’s mum, told independent.ie of her pride and sadness on Nicola’s graduation day.
“It was a really lovely day. So many of Nicola’s special days have been taken away from us – her engagement, her wedding, but this one is one we could be at, thanks to DCU.”
“It was heart wrenching. Seeing all of the students in their gowns and one particular girl who was thin and had long blonde hair, she looked like Nicola.”
“All four of us were in tears.”
“At the beginning of the ceremony they had asked that people don’t clap individually, so everyone just clapped the group when they had finished. But when they called Nicola’s name the whole place erupted.”
Angie, and Nicola’s dad Andrew, and Nicola’s sisters Andrea and Hannah all attended the emotional ceremony.
“We were all very proud of her. It was a day of mixed emotions – we were proud and heartbroken at the same time.”
“Nicola would have been there and she would have really, really enjoyed it. I was looking at photos and her groups of friends and they all looked stunning. My Nicola would have fitted in.”
The college had contacted the family directly to ask if they wanted to attend the ceremony.
Nicola was “very academic”, Angie said.
“DCU are amazing. They met us at the door and brought us to our seats, and kept coming over to make sure we were OK during the ceremony.”
Nicola, from Curracloe, Co Wexford, was strangled to death by US musician Richard Hinds at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Tokyo on May 24, 2012.
He will serve between five and 10 years in jail for the brutal murder.
By Geraldine Gittens