February 8, 2022

Student Spotlight - Ellie Tarpley

Ellie Tarpley is grateful for second chances.

In 2007 she came to the University of Montevallo as a mass communication major with aspirations of becoming a writer. She graduated in 2011, but shortly afterward went through a divorce, became a single mom and struggled to find a job in her field.

“Things didn’t turn out the way I thought they would,” Tarpley said. “Being a single mom was hard, and I kept getting stuck with sales positions. I wasn’t happy and wasn’t making a livable wage or doing something that I felt was worthwhile.”

Unsure about what to do next, the Helena native started talking to social workers who graduated from UM’s Social Work Program. Intrigued by how much they loved the program, she decided to apply.

She started in the summer of 2020 and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in social work in May 2022. Tarpley said she couldn’t have made a better decision for her and her daughter’s lives.

“I already have a job through the Title IV-E Program, which allows you to do an internship at DHR and you get employed upon agreeing to work for Child and Family Services for 18 months after graduation,” Tarpley said. “I love the University of Montevallo, but the Social Work Program has really made a huge impact on me and my daughter’s lives, and I haven’t event graduated yet.”

“It’s all due to the amazing alumni and the professors. I was able to graduate in two years, the alumni and professors provided me with numerous scholarship opportunities that allowed this poverty-stricken single mom to return to school and reach my goals. As a non-traditional student, they made it very easy to navigate. UM’s Social Work Program really holds true to what I believe and think social workers should be.”

Tarpley received seven scholarships in pursuit of her social work degree and is the University’s first recipient of the Dr. Rebecca O. Turner Endowed Gap Scholarship, which was awarded to her on Dec. 3, 2021.

“My first time at Montevallo was beneficial, but this time it was even more so. It’s been life changing. If you want a university that’s open-minded, diverse, accepting and willing to go over and beyond to help you, that’s UM.”