Hobart and William Smith Colleges - Murphy ’20, MAT ’21 Relaunches the Nerd Herd
The HWS Update
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Murphy ’20, MAT ’21 Relaunches the Nerd Herd

When Shannon Murphy ’20, MAT ’21 was studying abroad in Ireland, she wanted to find a way to keep her interests alive—especially her appreciation of fantasy and sci-fi comic books, movies and television. She was grateful to join a group there of like-minded people who got together regularly to discuss their favorite topics and was even able to attend a comic convention.

When the English major and education minor retuned to Geneva to complete her MAT year, she wanted to recreate those experiences by connecting with what she says are other self-described ‘nerds’ on campus. “I knew there was a population here that was interested in fantasy and sci-fi, but I felt like there wasn’t a space for people to get together and talk about that kind of thing,” she says.

Murphy knew that a club called the Nerd Herd had existed, but she found that it had since disbanded. She’s made it her goal to get the group up and running again. While the initial plan was to enjoy group movie nights and travel to local conventions, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Nerd Herd instead meets virtually twice a month. The Zoom sessions allow members to discuss recent events and the latest news in the worlds of sci-fi and fantasy and to offer suggestions and recommendations to one another. The group recently discussed the New York Comic Con x MCM Comic Con Metaverse and the DC Fandome events.

While Nerd Herd members are fans of a range of fantasy and sci-fi books, graphic novels, television shows and movies, Murphy says, “We tend to talk about Star Wars a lot.” Aside from that galaxy far, far away, she also counts herself a fan of Marvel and DC comics and Doctor Who.

In Ireland, the nerd group Murphy belonged to often had weekend “lock-ins,” where the group would stay up all night binge-watching a favorite show. She’d like to do that on campus when conditions are safe to do so. In the meantime, she’s looking forward to implementing another idea she learned while studying abroad: connecting with other clubs. “I can see the Nerd Herd collaborating with the E-Scape Gaming Club,” she says. “A lot of those people share interests that overlap.”

Murphy’s interest in fantasy and sci-fi isn’t just a hobby—it applies in her work, too, teaching seventh and eighth graders at Waterloo Middle School. “When I’m teaching a new skill or they’re learning a new text, we try to relate it to things that they’re familiar with, like superhero movies or video games,” she says. “It’s a fun way to integrate their interests and their learning.”

To join the Nerd Herd, email shannon.murphy@hws.edu.