Occupation: Graduate of Maryville College; student at the University of Rochester in New York; Fulbright Nehru scholar to India.
Family: Single; parents are Janet Murrill of Knoxville and Ed Murrill of Monroe County
Matthew Murrill graduated Maryville College in May of 2008. While some of his classmates went into the work world, he opted to go to the other side of the world.
Matthew Murrill recently won a Fulbright Nehru Fellowship. He will travel to Jadavpur University School of Environmental Studies in Calcutta in the state of West Bengal, India.
“My grant proposal is about the arsenic contamination of West Bengal. In that area, the ground water is contaminated with arsenic so a lot of the drinking water has high amounts of arsenic,” he says. “The (Calcutta) school and university have been working to monitor and analyze the water, make people aware of the issue and work toward remediation efforts. I’ll be doing quite a bit of water analysis.”
He learned about the opportunity while studying in Rochester in the summer of 2007, a year before he graduated Maryville College. Someone in his summer program had spent time in India studying the water problem. When Murrill returned to Maryville College, he spoke with his professors about the opportunity.
“At Maryville, we had a couple of professors who had Fulbright (fellowships). I talked to them, and it went from there,” he says.
Murrill says one the aspects of Maryville College he loves is how professors encourage individuals to explore any topic. “I’ve had classes where a random interest is sparked from the discussion. The teachers are more than happy to talk and more than willing to encourage you,” he said. “I think that creative exploration of everything and keeping an open mind to life and all sorts of people is one of best things about Maryville College.”
Murrill says he will be in Calcutta nine months, from mid-August to mid-April. “If things go well, there will be an opportunity for an extension. I’ll be doing quite a bit of water analysis, water sampling, discussions with local policy makers, physicians and environmental scientist,” he says. “I’ll be trying to learn the culture as best as I can and just be open to everything there. I’m extremely excited. I want to let it be what is.”
Here is Matt Murrill:
What is your favorite quote from television or a movie?
“It began with the forging of the Great Rings. Three were given to the Elves...” From “Lord of the Rings”
How do you like your steak cooked?
“Medium -- not overdone but not making sounds either.”
What are you guilty of?
“I am chronically late to almost everything. My friends and family who know me well are now ‘scheduling’ everything 30 minutes earlier.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“As it satisfies my obsessive e-mail habit and allows me to stay in touch with the people I love, my phone would have to be my favorite material possession.”
Who has been the most influential person in the 20th Century?
“During my short stent in the 20th century, my Mum was undoubtedly the most influential person in my life.”
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“Ignoring awkward college communal bathroom scenarios and uncomfortable public speaking engagements, my most privately embarrassing moment was set in a small village in central France. I remember feeling quite sick and catching the hint of some rather foul stench. Thinking it was emanating from me, I walked all over town attempting to ask people in French where the closest bathroom was and utterly failing in the process. After almost an hour, my search was over as I checked my shoe and found some lovely canine feces.”
If you only had a week to live, what would you do and why?
“I would spend it with friends and family in the mountains or at one of my favorite parks, Hunting Island (South Carolina).”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“Different. I’m not sure yet if they are meaning this as a compliment.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“I consistently wish I could play an instrument well.”
What is your passion?
“I am passionate about clean drinking water and environmental health. Water is one of those essential facets of life that inherently ignores political boundaries. After all, river basins don’t abide by county lines nor is the water in the Indian Ocean isolated from that of the Atlantic. Whether we choose to react to growing water issues with unity or division, we are all in this together. As this sense of universal humanity has grown in me through time in Central America and Appalachia, I believe the fulfillment of the human right to clean water and sanitation is only the beginning. Such a human rights framework for water, healthcare, education and beyond opens the door to envisioning and, equally if not more important, working towards a more just and sustainable world.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“The Apostle Paul. There are a ton historical and theological questions that I would love to ask him.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“Time = 0 seconds. Seeing how it all began would answer/create so many wonderful questions.”
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“Before I left for an extended trip abroad, one of my best friends gave me a Nalgene bottle stuffed full of letters that she had asked friends and family to write to me. It’s hard to beat something so personal and touching.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“My mother’s best advice was her actions. She always encouraged and instilled in me the importance of education and an open mind. I am forever in her debt.”
Who is your hero?
“I have two, an individual and a group. Individual: the scholar, physician, and advocate for the poor Albert Schweitzer; Group: the relentlessly dedicated folks working with and for the organization Partners in Health.”
Do you Myspace, Facebook or Twitter?
“I rather frequently use Facebook, and I think I have a Twitter account but have yet to use it.”
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
“I love all animals. However, based on my track record of pets, I am a dog person 5:1.”
What’s the worst job you have ever had?
“Every job I have had so far has been enjoyable: soccer camp coach, tutor, laboratory assistant. I’m crossing fingers for the upcoming years.”
What is your theme song that best describes you?
“While they aren’t descriptive, “Masterfade” by Andrew Bird and “Missing” by Everything But The Girl are two of my classic sing-a-longs.”