May 18, 2018

As Moira Duffy prepares to graduate this weekend with a Nursing degree from University of Sioux Falls, her next stop involves a plane ticket to Sofia, Bulgaria. There she will not yet practice nursing, but through the prestigious Fulbright program will teach English in a Bulgarian public secondary school for one academic year. While they don’t immediately seem related, Duffy says they very much are.

“I can confidently say that my time spent in the nursing program at USF, the honors program and throughout my liberal arts curriculum has really equipped me with the ability to consider things from different perspectives, to think critically, and to ask more probing questions,” Duffy said. “These skills will hopefully give me the ability to adapt and adjust in a new culture, and also to remain open-minded about the new things that will inevitably be coming my way during my time in Bulgaria.” 

Last week Duffy was also recognized for her contribution to scholarship and devotion to service with USF’s Representative Woman Award. The Representative Man and Woman awards are given to two individuals who exemplify the ideal USF student—an individual committed to the University and the purposes for which it was founded. Final selection is determined by the senior class, which chooses from those nominated. This is the highest honor given to a student by the entire campus community. She also earned a Purple Feather Award.

Seven months ago, Duffy applied to the Fulbright/America for Bulgaria Foundation English Teaching Assistantship with the help of her adviser, Dr. James Foster, who also directs the Honors Program at USF. He was thrilled upon the recent news that Duffy was accepted.

“Moira is an excellent student, an Honors scholar, and a delight to work with,” Dr. Foster said. “Moira’s level-headedness, sense of adventure, and desire to learn made her an excellent choice for this program.”

Duffy was compelled to pursue the Fulbright program because its objective to foster cultural understanding and exchange by immersing students in other cultures intrigued her.

“The privilege of engaging with—and learning from—people with unique stories and backgrounds has become one of the most enjoyable aspects of my clinical rotations during nursing school,” Duffy said. “The Fulbright Program seemed like the perfect combination—creating the opportunity to engage with people from a different culture, while also teaching English to Bulgarian students.”

As Duffy dug into nursing study, she found a special love for patient care, especially empowering patients with knowledge and skills for success while constantly interacting with people from all walks of life.

And because of her rigorous liberal arts education at USF, Duffy feels equipped with the skills to adapt and adjust in the immersion of a new culture.

Duffy joins an esteemed community of Fulbright alumni who have achieved distinction in many fields, including 57 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 82 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.

“We were thrilled to learn of Moira’s selection as a Fulbright Student award winner,” said Joy Lind, Vice President for Academic Affairs at USF. “The Fulbright program is a highly prestigious scholarship program, and we are excited to have Moira representing USF in the Fulbright community.”

Living out the University mission of Culture for Service, Duffy views the experience through the lens of service to God and humankind in the world. 

“I hope to be able to live out USF’s mission of Culture for Service beyond graduation,” Duffy said. “I hope to come back with a broader world perspective and unique experiences that will hopefully make me a better and more compassionate nurse, and more so than that, human being—and in that way, hopefully that will influence the world.”

Duffy will take her nursing board exam in June prior to leaving for Bulgaria with plans to begin her nursing career when she returns from her Fulbright experience.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Through the program, Fulbrighters address critical global issues in all disciplines, while forging lasting connections, and building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States.

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