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Alumna Earns Prestigious Award to Support Her Doctoral Dissertation

by Web on October 26, 2016

Victoria Gorham, a 2012 graduate who majored in political science and was the first student to minor in African studies at Millsaps College, is the recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad grant.

The Fulbright-Hays Program -- a Fulbright Program funded by a Congressional appropriation to the United States Department of Education-- awards grants to individual U.S. K-14 pre-teachers, teachers and administrators, pre-doctoral students and postdoctoral faculty, as well as to U.S. institutions and organizations. Funding supports research and training efforts overseas, which focus on non-Western foreign languages and area studies.

Gorham will use the award to conduct fieldwork for her dissertation in Tanzania for nine months, beginning in June 2017.

Gorham’s interest in Tanzania dates to a 2011 trip she took as a Millsaps student with by Dr. Julian Murchison, who was then a professor at Millsaps. “That really solidified my interest in further travel and study in the region,” said Gorham, who was a named a member of Phi Beta Kappa at Millsaps.

Dr. Iren Omo-Bare, associate professor of political science at Millsaps, describes Gorham as a serious, conscientious, and able student, whose trip to Tanzania as an undergraduate was transformative.

“It comes as no surprise that she is the recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad grant,” he said. “Victoria’s commitment to pursue advanced studies in Africa was confirmed after she returned from a summer abroad in Tanzania. Upon her return from Tanzania, I conversed with Victoria about her experience in Africa. During the course of our conversations I was quite impressed with her familiarity with the peoples and culture of Tanzania.

“She spoke fondly of her host family and the many people she met in the country. I suspect that the friendships that she formed while in Tanzania had much to do with her cooperative and congenial disposition. I am confident that given her friendly disposition, enthusiasm, strong work ethic, and drive, her performance as a Fulbright scholar will be exemplary. She will be a credit to herself and to Millsaps College.”

Gorham returned to Tanzania for a second time during the summer of 2014 to conduct pre-dissertation research.

“When I go in June, I'll be based out of Dar es Salaam and will be conducting research for my dissertation project,” said Gorham, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of political science at the University of Florida. She is also an adjunct instructor at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla.

“My dissertation is about comparing nation-building projects in an effort to better understand their relative effectiveness. Basically, why do we see higher levels of nationalism in some places than in others? I'll be working on figuring this out in Tanzania by working in archives and doing research in places like schools and museums to learn about how states teach their citizens what it means to belong to a nation.”