Scott Young, Staff Writer
As a young girl who grew up in Birmingham, Dr. Breann Elizabeth Murphy grew up pursuing her passion of dancing.
She competed in numerous regional and national dance competitions through her high school and college years, where she tip-toed into her distinguished career in communications. Now, she is an Assistant Professor of Communication for Jacksonville State University.
“Communications is so fascinating and stems from so many other fields, such as psychology, sociology, behavioral studies, history, law, philosophy, and so many more,” said Dr. Murphy. “It’s a hot plate for knowledge and education.”
Growing up, Dr. Murphy began dancing at age five and continued dancing until she was in college—ten years at a dance studio in Birmingham, four years in high school and two years in college as a UAB Golden Girl. She even received the opportunity to compete in a national dance competition at Walt Disney World for six straight years.
Born and raised in Birmingham, she is southern through and through, and proud of it. She describes the southern way of life as “unique” and “special”.
“There are truly not many other places in this world where you can experience the real meaning of southern hospitality,” said Dr. Murphy. “Our preferences in life are put in the best order in the deep south: family, faith, and football.”
In her spare time, she loves to go to the beach and spend time with her fluffy white cat, who she says is the official princess of the house and holds a special place in her heart.
Dr. Murphy began her extensive academic journey at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, earning a bachelor’s degree in history. Growing up, she had always loved learning new things about different time periods. So naturally, she wanted to tap into the vast amount of culture embedded in history.
Like many students, she had no idea what her field of study was going to be at first. With the many opportunities and majors in front of her, she was overwhelmed with the possibilities.
“It’s okay to be unsure of your future. College is a time to explore all the areas that education has to offer. Take different types of courses and participate in internships. Because, through all of this exposure and practice, you will truly find your calling, and, once you find your passion, be courageous and never lose your curiosity to learn. Because, with courage and curiosity, anything is possible,” said Dr. Murphy in her message to college students.
Her transition to communications began when she experimented with her elective courses, where she discovered that she really enjoyed communications. After discussing with her professor, she joined the graduate program at UAB and earned her Master’s degree in Communication Management.
While at UAB, she wanted to gain practical experience in communications by working in the field, so she applied for and was accepted for an internship at a public relations agency. Later on, she became a graduate teaching assistant, where she taught public speaking and assisted in other communication-related courses.
On advice from her graduate advisor, she transferred to the University of Alabama to earn her Ph.D. in Mass Communication, specializing in public relations. As an author of numerous publications and a dissertation, Dr. Murphy explores the role of female leaders in major corporations and public relations agencies. Through interviewing women in executive positions, she was able to gain an understanding of how women are shaping the field of communications.
To segue into her academic career, she applied for a position at JSU as an assistant professor. As someone who appreciates the small-town, southern environment, she knew that JSU and its southern hospitality would be a perfect fit for her.
“JSU really seems to put the students first. I appreciate how students are allowed to participate and run various student groups and organizations, because that practical experience is so valuable,” said Dr. Murphy when asked why she chose to join the JSU family. “Everyone has been warm and welcoming, and it feels like such a family-oriented environment.”
If you’re in her classroom in the future, she’ll likely be teaching classes such as Intro to Public Relations, Communication Law, and Ethics & Global Journalism. If you see Dr. Murphy around campus, be sure to give her a warm welcome and congratulate her on all of her academic accomplishments.