Learning as she goes

Bethany Pruitt finds a home away from home at England’s De Montfort University

By Megan Bradshaw

Bethany Pruitt with other international students
Bethany Pruitt (second from left) with other international students at a welcome event at De Montfort University

Towson University junior Bethany Pruitt moved around a lot as a child but never out of the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area.

As an adult, she has relocated—temporarily—once more: to England.

The recipient of a Gilman Scholarship, Pruitt has spent this fall at De Montfort University in Leicester.

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She chose De Montfort, in part, because it’s so similar to TU.

“They partnered with Towson years ago but shut the program down because they completely renovated their entire campus, like Towson is doing now,” says Pruitt. “The university’s in the heart of the city. They have walkways lined with pubs and shops and cafes through the campus. I felt like if I was going to study abroad, I wanted to go somewhere that's similar to the Towson feel because that's where I’ve got my home, college-wise.”

She is taking criminology-based courses at De Montfort, which touch on an early career ambition—crime scene investigator.

Growing up in D.C., Pruitt saw the effects of a culture of crime on neighborhoods and people. The desire to get away from that cycle informed her college choices and also instilled in her the desire to help others.

She is now a biology major with plans to attend medical school after graduation. Her original focus was trauma surgery, but over the course of her time at TU, she has shifted her attention to pediatrics.

“If I could really make a difference, I want to start younger,” she says. “In high school, I was pretty much raised by my middle school teacher, so I kind of get that desire to make a difference for kids from her. I feel like I can do the same in medicine.”

For now, though, Pruitt intends to make the most of her time in England.

Before she left, she spoke about her expectations for the program.

“I've never been abroad, so I have no idea what to look forward to. I'm the first one in my family, so it's very scary. But the excitement that comes with that—the unknowns, possibilities, everything I could learn and explore—is what I'm looking forward to.” 

Pruitt is sure about one thing: eating shepherd’s pie. She loves her grandfather’s version and intends to follow his advice to try the English version of her favorite food. 

Another item on her to-do list is participate in Gilman’s Reach the World program. Before leaving, Pruitt was paired with a U.S. K–12 classroom with which she’s been communicating monthly via video chats. In those conversations, she shares her thoughts on her classes and what it’s like to travel and study. 

It’s safe to say after several months in England, Pruitt is an enthusiastic ambassador for studying abroad.

“It has given me the opportunity to travel the world and meet so many amazing people,” Pruitt muses. “During my time abroad, I’ve gotten a chance to meet people from all over the world. Through getting to know so many different people I’ve learned that no matter where you come from in life, you can always change the future for the better.”


Studying biology at TU

Biology majors select from a range of concentrations, including cell and molecular biology, functional biology of animals, organismal biology and ecology, and biology secondary education.