Current master’s student Brittany Groves, who’s studying German and working on a certificate in the Women’s Studies program, recently shared her experience as a Fulbright scholar and tapped into what can be concerns for many prospective graduate students. Groves believes choosing a program with faculty and financial support is key.
Tell us a little about your undergraduate experience.
I went The University of Alabama for undergrad as well. I think I did my undergrad in three years instead of four, because I came in with a few extra credits. My experience was largely positive. I was a National Merit Scholar and had funding and the ability to study abroad more than once. My majors were history and German, and I minored in international studies.
After graduation, I had applied to come back to UA partially because of funding in the German department. I was looking at other schools as well. I received a Fulbright year – during that year it became clear I wanted a bit more depth in my studies before I decided on a PhD program. UA allowed me the space to do that. I knew I’d also have the funding hebre as well.
How has attending graduate school at The University of Alabama been beneficial for you?
As a grad student, it’s been beneficial from a financial perspective. Here I was awarded a teaching assistantship. The department is open about how that works, and they’re respectful of my time as a student. There was a conference held here by the Modern Languages department in which I was able to present research in a smaller environment before going to larger conferences. That’s really helpful.
What role has the Graduate School’s faculty played in your success?
The faculty have been wonderful. They’re really available if you have questions about your program, going on to PhD programs and how that path works, and giving you opportunities to do things that will help you. One professor asked me if I wanted to step in for him while he was away, so I was a guest lecturer. Being able to plan the lesson, receive input on whether it would work in a class and then actually put it to work doesn’t always happen.
The German department has also been instrumental in nominating me for scholarships and helping me put my application materials together correctly.
How would you describe your Fulbright year?
My Fulbright year as an English teaching assistant was wonderful. I received my full acceptance in March and my placement in May. That school had students from about 10 to 17 or 18 years of age. It was different every day – sometimes it was small groups and other times a class with everyone. Working with the older students was fun, because you could see their personalities. We learned a lot together. There were opportunities in and out of the classroom to learn things and meet people. It was really a great year.
What else has been beneficial about attending graduate school at UA?
The German department has a teaching methodologies class that has us observe other students, so you’re in a classroom seeing what teaching assistants a year ahead of you are doing. In our course, we develop activities for classes to do and discuss them. After we’ve tweaked them, we get to see them done in classrooms, which is really helpful to me. It’s showing me how to be a teacher, so I know what it will be like when I’m in charge of my own classroom.
What’s next for you?
I’d like to do a PhD in history with a German geographic focus. And I’m interested in gender and race, in particular, answering questions about identity formation and who gets a voice in different parts of history. We’ll see exactly where that takes me.
Why do you think a prospective student should choose to attend graduate school at The University of Alabama?
I think they should choose UA, because even though we’re a large university, each department has its own feel. It’s a lot smaller once you’re in graduate school. Your department and faculty are really interested in what you want to do. They may know someone who has that experience and can put you in contact. I don’t know if you get that everywhere. My department really feels like a comfortable, sort-of family environment.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.