For this article, the Honors Program interviewed a Tulane alumna and Fulbright grant recipient, Tayla Moore.
Approaching the end of her senior year in May of 2019, Tayla Moore says Fulbright swooped in with a “ta da” moment, giving her plans for post-grad life. A few months later, in August of 2019, Tayla moved into her apartment in India to begin her year-long study of public health, holistic medicine, and access to care in the country.
Before beginning the research itself, Tayla spent her first three months on a Fulbright Critical Language Enhancement Award (CLEA). CLEA is an additional grant that extends Fulbrighters’ years for three months and allows them to learn languages they’ll use in their Fulbright project and beyond, thus enhancing Fulbright’s goal of cross-cultural engagement. Tayla took Hindi at Zabaan School for Languages in New Delhi, and continued to study Hindi even after her allocated three months under CLEA ended.
After her CLEA months, Tayla planned to research whether “Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy and Naturopathy (AYUSH) is an accessible treatment, and whether AYUSH and Biomedicine can work together for collaborative treatment.” She planned to conduct interviews with AYUSH and biomedical practitioners to more deeply understand the integrated healthcare system and the burdens posed by it.
Tayla was “really just getting started when COVID hit” in March of 2020 when she was notified about the pandemic and the closure of her university. Her research had to be put on hold because her project involved qualitative interviews with participants in India, and it was impossible to continue in the pandemic-stricken United States.
Since returning to the United States, Tayla has had time to reflect on her experiences in India and what led her to apply for a Fulbright grant in the first place. In her junior year, Tayla says she “studied in India by accident... I was not planning on focusing my research interests in the global south.” Now, she credits Fulbright with giving her an opportunity to do research while also being an ambassador for the United States. “Fulbright fosters cross-cultural exchange,” Tayla says. “They say that on their website, but I don’t think people truly understand what it means until they get to the country.” By fostering relationships with students, professors, and her homestay family, she says Fulbright provided her with an “enormous opportunity to create a network in another part of the world, and truly get to experience another culture as a young scholar.” One day, she hopes to return to India, and continue to the work that she began there.
Tayla believes that more people should apply to Fulbright for these opportunities, and that too many students are intimidated by the process. She said that “there were so many different kinds of people that I met on the Fulbright. There were so many different personalities, and so many different topics of research, and everybody was brilliant in their own right, in whatever their field was.” Most of all, Tayla said that every Fulbrighter had a strong, vested interest in being in India, specifically. She says research grant applicants should be ambitious, but ambitious within reason, so as to strike the balance between innovative research that is possible to conduct.
While Fulbright swooped in as Tayla’s “ta da” moment, she recognizes that that does not happen for everyone. She says that seniors put stress on themselves to have it all figured out, and that that stress only grows as graduation approaches. To seniors, Tayla says to “be like water, and be adaptable, and
know it’s going to work itself out.” Even after getting a Fulbright grant, Tayla found out in March of 2020 that “the best laid plans can go to waste,” so it’s important to “give yourself grace.”
Faculty and alumni are encouraged to recommend a book to current Honors students.
Tayla recommends Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington, especially during our national reckoning with racism and the healthcare system, and amidst this COVID-19 pandemic.