SOPH Fast Track Senior to Study Abroad in France After Landing Competitive Scholarship

Tiffany Westry Womack

The Gilman Scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program aims to make study abroad experiences accessible to a more diverse population of students and to encourage students to choose less traditional study abroad destinations. It also gives students the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages and economies — making them better prepared to assume leadership roles in government and the private sector.

Students are selected for the Gilman Scholarship through a highly competitive application process. The program receives more than 10,000 applications each year and awards about 2,500 scholarships. Gilman scholars are awarded up to $5,000 toward their study abroad or internship program costs. The program aims to support students who traditionally have been underrepresented in education abroad, including, but not limited to, students with high financial need, first-generation college students, students in STEM fields, students from diverse ethnic backgrounds and students with disabilities.

Murphy is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in foreign languages with a concentration in French in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences and is a student in the UAB Honors College on the personalized path. She will spend the summer studying in Pau, France.

“Living in Pau, France, for two months will increase my fluency, which will enable me to work with French-speaking people all over the world,” Murphy said. “I have registered for the maximum number of classes for the semester, and I am looking forward to learning about social customs at a French university. I would not have been able to afford this study abroad experience without the Benjamin Gilman scholarship. I am incredibly thankful to have this opportunity.” 

Murphy has studied French for six years, and has also studied Spanish, Latin and Arabic. Her passion for foreign languages is driven by her love for learning about other cultures. It is through her love of languages that she hopes to help others by also obtaining a Fast Track Master of Public Health degree through the UAB School of Public Health.

Her interest in public health began in fall 2014 after taking a Sexual Health Awareness through Peer Education class. SHAPE is a group of trained and knowledgeable college students and people living with HIV who provide sexual health workshops and outreach for youth and young adults, with an emphasis on college students. After taking the training class, Murphy began volunteering at UAB’s 1917 Clinic, which has provided compassionate and comprehensive health care and services for persons living with HIV for more than 25 years.

“That November, I applied to the Fast Track Master of Public Health Fifth Year Program and was accepted into the Epidemiology program,” Murphy said. “I have been enjoying the program ever since. I would like to work as an epidemiologist with Doctors without Borders in a French-speaking nation after graduation.”

The Fast Track MPH program allows students to complete core requirements for the program, prior to their undergraduate degree.