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APSU senior Thomas Murphy finishes accomplished undergraduate tenure with Washington D.C. internship

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — A common regret recent college graduates share is that they wish they had not let opportunity pass by them. It’s a complaint that takes a lot of forms — some wish they had studied abroad, others wish they joined a campus club and still more wish they had taken that internship opportunity — but you would not be alone in wishing you had said “yes” more often during your college years.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — A common regret recent college graduates share is that they wish they had not let opportunity pass by them. It’s a complaint that takes a lot of forms — some wish they had studied abroad, others wish they joined a campus club and still more wish they had taken that internship opportunity — but you would not be alone in wishing you had said “yes” more often during your college years.

Austin Peay State University student Thomas Murphy is trying to avoid those future regrets. A senior French major, Murphy has been active on campus, serving as a member of student government, as well as participating in the University’s President’s Emerging Leaders Program (PELP) and Honors Program.

“As a student, I realized my time was limited, and so I tried to do as much as I possibly could to expand my skill set and research interests,” Murphy said. “I tried to take advantage of as many various opportunities as I could, whether or not I thought they would be a necessary component of my future job."

Murphy is currently spending his final college semester in Washington D.C., serving as a communications intern for the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA), an organization of journalists, media professionals, educators and students working to foster fair and accurate coverage of LGBTQ issues. Murphy came to NLGJA through a partnership with The Washington Center, which places students with organizations whose work they show interest in.

Murphy’s affiliation with The Washington Center came at the urging of PELP director Dr. Matthew Kenney, who connects PELP students with internship opportunities that allow APSU students to develop their own leadership skills from community leaders.

“Dr. Kenney had been encouraging me to do an internship through the Washington Center since my freshman year,” Murphy said. “(Internships are) a really great opportunity open to all Austin Peay students.”

Working with NLGJA is a merging of interests, Murphy said, as he has contributed a number of pieces to outlets including Out & About Nashville, as well as a recently published opinion article in The Tennessean. As a junior, Murphy spent a semester interning for Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris.

“Fortunately, I had enough flexibility in my schedule to take advantage of a semester away my last semester of college. Since I already had some experience in public policy, I wanted to do something a little different. Writing has always been at the core of my interests, and I wanted to use this opportunity to work specifically on developing my writing abilities in narrower, job-oriented capacity.”

Upon graduation in May, Murphy said he plans to enter the doctoral program at New York University’s Department of French. As an undergraduate student, Murphy spent a semester of study at the University of Orléans in Orléans, France. This past summer, he returned to the country for a French translation project, funded by APSU’s Office of Undergraduate Research, with APSU professor, Dr. Karen Sorenson.

Murphy credits Austin Peay with his interest in the language, with his first exposure coming while taking dual credit classes at APSU while still a junior in high school. It was his experience in those courses, Murphy said, that inspired him to pursue French as a major once he matriculated.

Continued education may be in his immediate future, but Murphy is hesitant to rule out continuing to write or remain active in politics. The opportunities made available to him outside of the classroom at Austin Peay, Murphy said, have opened his eyes and have helped build an attractive resume and set of skills for whatever path he decides to pursue.

"I have always been interested in academia, and (graduate school) seems to be the logical next step, (but) at the same time, I don't believe my interests need to be exclusive, and I plan to continue writing both academically and for various outlets in the coming years,” Murphy said. “There's no way to know what the future holds, but I am excited to see what's in store.

“I am extremely thankful for the support I've received from all the Austin Peay faculty I've worked with over the years, who have been tireless in encouraging me to go outside of my comfort zone. I can't imagine another school where I would have the opportunity to be so close to professors not only in French, but also in classics, political science and English.”

For more information on APSU’s President’s Emerging Leader’s Program, visit www.apsu.edu/pelp. For more information on the Office of Undergraduate Research, visit www.apsu.edu/our.