Brenda Midson’s graduating shoulder to shoulder with some of the many students she has taught.
She’s had a career at Te Piringa - Faculty of Law spanning two decades, and now she’s adding a PhD. She did a BA just out of school, worked for a law firm for a while, then returned to University of Waikato to do her Law degree, then her Masters. And she says she just more or less just stayed on.
Her oldest daughter Quin was 3 months old when Dr Midson started at Waikato. Quin has just turned 22 and is a Hillary Scholar, studying Law and finance at Waikato herself. Her second daughter is in Auckland, working towards Medical School. The juggling act of being a solo mum is part of the reason the PhD has taken a while. “I’ve gone from being a solo mum, a dance mum, driving them around and doing everything for them, to being more or less an empty nester. It’s exciting to finally literally put a cap on that part of my life.”
Dr Midson’s PhD thesis considers degrees of moral blame in culpable homicide, and she’s publicly advocated for a law change. She has also produced a number of publications on topics including evidentiary issues in sexual assault cases, liability for accidental childhood deaths, and child homicide, along with texts in Criminal Law and Evidence. As well as her position as a Senior Lecturer in Law, she is the General Editor of the New Zealand Law Journal, and a contributor to The Conversation.
She has taught thousands of students about crimes and evidence, and over the years she has covered a wide range of other papers across the curriculum, including legal method and systems, and jurisprudence. So is getting her PhD really a big deal? “Yes it really is. I’m really excited about it, partly because it’s been such a long journey. I had always planned to do a PhD, but then I had kids, and doing that while they were little was really impossible. I didn’t start it until they were in their early teens. To have actually done it is a real achievement.”
Dr Midson will graduate on Tuesday 7 May, at Claudeland Showgrounds.