Published: 21 July 2016

Puerto Rico couple graduate together, hoping to stay in “wonderful” Liverpool

A Puerto Rican couple who came to the University of Liverpool together six years ago to begin a Masters degree will collect their doctorates at Liverpool Philharmonic today.

Carlos Villafane and Jennifer Martinez Morales both joined the University’s Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology in 2010, and have been so struck by “wonderful” Liverpool that they hope to stay on and pursue academic careers here.

29-year-old Carlos, who grew up in the Puerto Rican capital, San Juan said: “Being from Puerto Rico we’ve always been coastal people. With Liverpool so close to the sea, and with such a rich maritime history, we saw it as being nearer to home.”

The University also offered the courses they were looking for, in archaeology and ancient history, and in the intervening six years the pair, who have been together for a decade, fell in love with the city.

They haven’t just studied here either, with Jennifer working for National Museums Liverpool and both playing a part in the redevelopment of the University’s Garstang Museum

She said: “It’s so much more cultural and with all the museums, the history and the architecture we really have everything here. It also offered the department that would be best for our topic and what we wanted to study.”

Their research even overlapped; with Carlos’ investigating the surrounding communities of ancient Sparta for his PhD and Jennifer studying women and war in classical Greece.

Jennifer, who is from the Puerto Rican city of Humacao, said: “We’ve loved so many things. The department has been incredible for both of us and we’ve had wonderful supervisors.

“We’re now looking for academic jobs and it would be perfect if we could stay in Liverpool.”

Since completing their studies both have been teaching at the University, with Carlos taking undergraduate modules on ancient Greek history and Jennifer leading undergraduate modules on Greek myth and women in antiquity.

And today, with their families over to celebrate alongside, the pair will receive their doctorates in the morning ceremony at the Philharmonic.

Jennifer added: “We’re both excited and incredibly happy! It’s nice to have finally finished our studies.”

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