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Commencement is an exciting time for many families of UT Knoxville students. This year, one family is experiencing that excitement threefold.

The McFarland family, from Nashville, has three sons graduating within a two-day span. Brothers Matthew, Patrick, and Thomas are receiving degrees during commencement ceremonies Thursday and today.

McFarland Brothers
Left to right, Matthew, Patrick, and Thomas McFarland graduate Thursday and Friday.

Patrick, who is graduating from the dual MS/MBA sport management program, crossed the stage at the graduate hooding ceremony on Thursday in Thompson-Boling Arena. Thomas graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences this morning with a double major in economics and political science. Matthew will cap off the two-day celebration by receiving his degree from the College of Law tonight.

Oldest brother Matthew said having the ceremonies so close together isn’t a big deal. “If we’re going to be having them this close together, I’m glad we get to do it together. After this many years [the commencement schedule] really doesn’t feel hurried at all.”

Middle brother Patrick, who is completing an internship in the Athletic Ticket Office, said the rapid-fire ceremonies has “given us the opportunity to have all our family together at one time to celebrate.”

Youngest brother Thomas agreed that it’s a bonus to be able to celebrate alongside his brothers. “I think it’s pretty cool that we all graduate in a twenty-four hour span. Few brothers can say that they’ve done that. It is pretty hectic, but that just makes it more interesting and fun!”

Parents Tony and Mary Jane said that to some extent, the culmination of commencements is just a coincidence. Matthew attended Tennessee Tech University for his undergraduate degree, before coming to Knoxville to enroll in UT’s College of Law. Patrick and Thomas were already in Knoxville—Patrick finishing his undergraduate degree and Thomas beginning his. Tony said his sons are looking forward to graduating, “but I don’t think the nostalgia of leaving has hit them yet.”

It may hit them as they begin to settle in to the next phase of their lives. Matthew is hoping to find a job within the Knoxville legal community, Patrick is looking for work in Nashville, and Thomas will enroll at Vanderbilt University Law School in the fall.