Can you give us a quick overview of your background?
I am from Baltimore, Maryland, where I lived with my Mom. I chose Wesley College because it was close to home and had a small, close-knit community feel to it. Coming to Wesley was not a mistake. I surprise myself with all that I’ve accomplished so far. I am the first to attend college in my family.
What was your motivation to join the Society?
I listened to the former President of the Wesley Chapter, Erica Martin, describe her experience in the Society. I knew I had leadership skills and wanted to take my potential as far as I could. I don’t like staying in my comfort zone, so once I joined I set my sights on the Executive Board and held the office of Secretary, followed by Vice President and now the office of President. I am motivated by watching my personal growth, and I’ve become a better leader. I can envision myself receiving my Masters in Public Health and rising to become the Director of a Hospital or Research Institute. I want to take charge!
You are majoring in mathematics. So much is written about women in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields, how do you feel about the opportunities or struggles you have encountered?
There is no doubt that women are underrepresented in the STEM fields. There are only 12 students majoring in math at Wesley, but it’s not a challenge here. When I talk to people outside of Wesley about my major, and my 3.8 grade point average, it shocks most people. They look at me like I’m an alien. But their reaction is another challenge to overcome and a stepping stone for growth.
How were you invited to present at The National Council for Black Studies?
I am minoring in Africana Studies but had not heard of the organization. My professor, Dr. James, was presenting at the conference and asked me to be a co-presenter with her. As an honor student, we have to take mandatory courses and create a thesis. I am working on the achievement gaps between different cohorts of college students, and offering ideas on how to lessen the gaps. I received a grant from Wesley in order to attend the conference, and presented with Dr. James, another student from Wesley, and a student from Temple University. As a result, I am presented at Wesley Scholars Day on April 16th.
What actions do you believe are needed to address achievement gaps?
I’d propose building campus programs that address adjustment issues for incoming freshmen. Culture shock experiences occur for students who have never been away from home. Peer mentoring is a necessary component of student retention. Learning communities comprised of students who take courses together, live together, and perform community service together bring a dynamic of family and support. SNTs can have a positive effect because they build a community of goal setting, accountability, leadership and networking.
Congratulations on your selection to the University of Michigan, School of Public Health, Future Public Health Leaders Program. What will you accomplish?
I am so excited! U of M’s School of Public Health is ranked #4 in the nation. Out of 600 applicants, 40 were chosen to attend this 10 week program. It’s a major step for me in moving farther away from home and out of my comfort zone. I think I do my best the more out of my zone I move! All the public health disciplines will be available to me, and I believe that this program will help me decide where to focus in the field. It’s an opportunity to drill down and concentrate on my next goal. I will receive field training with NGOs and health systems, mentors and faculty. Combining math with public health will allow me to blend my passion for numbers with helping people. Community service and giving back is very important.
Do you ever have the luxury of a day “off,” and if so, what do you do?
Very rarely, but when I do I sleep and catch up on TV shows! Some of my favorites are Grey’s Anatomy, The Walking Dead, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, The Fosters and Pretty Little Liars. I love to stay in bed and watch them all.
What does leadership mean to you?
To me, it’s the ability to stand up and take action; to be outspoken and willing to stand up and try. More importantly, it’s about reaching back and helping other people to do the same. This semester we added 40 new members to our chapter. It’s about helping them grow and succeed in their own lives.
How do you define success?
Success couples with happiness. It’s not really the money aspect or the accolades, but about achieving positive outcomes, reaching goals and being happy with the results. I am very happy where I am now.
Can you give me three words that would describe the Society experience for you?
Hmm, they would be challenge, inspirational and community. I love the community aspect; no step is alone, all outcomes are different for everyone, but we go through it together.
What don’t we know about you that you’d like to share?
People think I am intimidating. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I always find a way to get things done. I have to tell you I am very shy. Getting on the phone with you today made me very nervous!
Morgan, we are honored to speak with you today, and happy to share your story with our members.