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Bethany Murphy ’20 Named as Marshall Scholar
Bethany Murphy, a senior environmental engineering major in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, has been named a 2020 Marshall Scholar. Founded in 1953, the Marshall Scholarships finance young Americans of high ability to study for a graduate degree at an institution in the United Kingdom in any field of study. Murphy was one of 46 students selected from around the country, and is Syracuse University’s third Marshall Scholar. Over the next two years, she will pursue master’s degrees at the University of Bristol and the University of Sheffield.
Below, Murphy talks about the scholarship and her experiences.
You hope to one day lead the Institute for Water Resources, the primary U.S. Army Corps of Engineers organization that works on water policy. Where will you study as a Marshall Scholar, and how do you believe this experience will help you prepare for your journey towards that goal?
In my first year, I will undertake an M.Sc. in water and environmental management at the University of Bristol. In my second year, I will undertake an M.Sc. in water engineering at the University of Sheffield. Pursuing these programs will enhance both my policy and technical engineering skills, which will prepare me to come up with creative solutions to water issues that the Institute for Water Resources deals with. Studying these subjects in the U.K., as opposed to the U.S., will introduce me to a new water geography and different ways of approaching water management and policy. At the same time, it will allow me to build personal and professional connections in the U.K.
You were born and raised in coastal Massachusetts, so the ocean has always been a big influence in your life. Why is it so important to implement sustainable water management resource practices?
Growing up surrounded by water sparked my passion for the environmental field. The average person might not think about water management all the time, but water matters to everyone. So much goes into keeping our waters clean and healthy, and just as much goes into ensuring a safe water supply and maintaining water infrastructure. It is critical that we make sustainable water management decisions because our water systems need to be able to adapt to climate change, population growth and other factors that impact our water security.
You’ve earned several prestigious scholarships, including the Udall Environmental Scholarship, Astronaut Scholarship, NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship and Syracuse University Remembrance Scholarship. What have the activities you have engaged in under these scholarships taught you?
These scholarships have given me the chance to connect and grow with other individuals—within the environmental field, STEM related fields or entirely different fields—who are looking to make an impact. This has been an invaluable opportunity, and one that I will carry with me in my personal and professional life. The Hollings scholarship was particularly inspirational to me because it provided me with a summer internship in Utah. A large part of my interest in water engineering is seeing how water demands and management vary by geography. Being able to work at the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center gave me hands-on experience with western water supply, from both a technical and policy perspective. This was important to me considering I’m accustomed to the water geography of the Northeast.
You are a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). What has this experience taught you?
ROTC has taught me what it means to be part of something bigger than myself and how important it is to stay dedicated to your goals. It has pushed me physically and mentally in ways that my academic experience alone could not have, while also developing my leadership and communication skills. I am grateful for the training opportunities and mentorship that I have gained by being in ROTC, and for the support the Army has given me as I have grown personally and professionally. I look forward to serving after graduation and contributing to the organization in a way that helps my soldiers grow, too.
How did you find out about the Marshall Scholarship? What do you encourage fellow students to do if they are interested in this kind of opportunity?
I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising (CFSA) at Syracuse University since my sophomore year when I applied for the Hollings Scholarship. Since then, CFSA has been very proactive about informing me of different scholarship opportunities that I might be interested in, including Marshall. From there, I did my own research and decided I wanted to apply. I encourage fellow students to connect with CFSA. They care and can introduce you to opportunities that you may otherwise not know of. Also, don’t be afraid to apply to opportunities that CFSA has identified you as a good fit for, even if you don’t feel confident in your chances to get it. I was a little unsure of myself at the beginning of the process, but am thankful to have had mentors who encouraged me to pursue this opportunity nonetheless. There is a wealth of resources at Syracuse University that students can take advantage of in order to help them succeed.
Students interested in applying for national scholarships such as the Marshall Scholarship should complete an “intent to apply” form with CFSA by the end of June 2020, and plan to work with CFSA.