Dean’s scholar receives prestigious Gilman Scholarship

Funding supporting extended global educational opportunities

Photo: Michayla Jeremiah By Erica Techo
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing student Michayla Jeremiah is making lemonade from the lemons of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.

It started with a newfound hobby—calligraphy—and steps toward learning a new language—Chinese. As she learned the language, Jeremiah recognized a broader opportunity to build her cultural awareness and humility in order to learn more about the world around her. To expand on her knowledge, she applied for and received a 2021 Gilman Scholarship—a $4,000 scholarship that supports study abroad opportunities for students across the country.

“I applied for the Gilman Scholarship because I wanted to wrap up my Chinese learning experience with a full immersion in the culture, to learn Chinese and Chinese calligraphy in China, but I also wanted to learn more about cultural awareness and cultural humility,” said Jeremiah, a Dean’s Scholar from Clanton, Alabama. “I wanted to learn about what it means to be culturally humble in preparation to become the best nurse I possibly can. A nurse with study abroad experience can connect with patients of the specific culture spent abroad as well as all other cultures due to gaining first-hand experience, knowledge, understanding and empathy for cultural humility.”

The Gilman Scholarship also provided a chance to be the first member of her family to study abroad.

"Since I am a part of a lower financial class, a first-generation college student, the first person in my family to study abroad, and the oldest of three children, I am the person setting the example for my younger siblings,” Jeremiah said. “I can represent the part of American culture that emanates the idea of creating your own goals and doing independent work to attain those goals.”

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and the demands of nursing school, however, Jeremiah’s plans to travel abroad were put on hold. This is where she worked to make lemonade and found a new remote learning opportunity. Through a global health course from the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), Jeremiah is fulfilling her goal.

“Despite the pandemic changing my experience completely, I believe with the Global Health course I am taking now will still—and has already begun to—provide cultural knowledge and awareness so I can still accomplish my initial goal, just in a different way,” she said.

In pursuit of being the best nurse she can be, Jeremiah recognizes that an overall understanding of patients and their experiences will enhance her ability to provide quality care.

“I know that having an open mind is one of the top things that you can have as a health care professional,” Jeremiah said. “You have to come into care understanding that everyone has their own experience, culture and needs. You don’t want to disrespect people, their religions or their cultures, and it is easy to avoid those mistakes—you just have to approach care with an open mind.”

Jeremiah is set to start her nursing program in Fall 2021 and has her eyes on continuing to pursue travel post-graduation.

“What interests me most is travel,” Jeremiah said. “As of now, I plan to pursue international travel nursing for a portion of my career, if not for a large majority. By traveling within my nursing career, I will improve my therapeutic skills to utilize internationally, maybe in China specifically, as well as in other areas of the world.”

Last modified on July 22, 2021

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