By JOEL McNEECE
Calhoun County Journal
Reprinted with permission
STARKVILLE – Robert Morgan, of Vardaman, has accomplished a lot in the classroom at Mississippi State University where he is closing in on a pair of degrees in education and mathematics. But it’s his work outside of his studies that recently earned him one of the university’s prestigious “Diversity Awards.”
It’s difficult to have “free time” when you’re taking 20 hours per semester, but Morgan has found time to volunteer as a mentor and tutor in Starkville public schools, serves as treasurer of the Starkville Multi-Culture Lions Club, and is employed at the English as a Second Language Center on the MSU campus where he has helped numerous international students adapt to campus life and receive other types of inter-cultural assistance.
“I try and help them get acclimated to living here and help them with all their basic needs,” Morgan said. “We have so many students from different cultures coming to school here. One of the things I’ve learned is no matter how different the culture, we all have so many similarities.”
Morgan said his inspiration “to give back” comes from his parents, Robert and Peggy Morgan of Vardaman.
“My mom works at the medical clinic in Vardaman and gives so much in and outside her job,” Morgan said. “My dad works at Chickasaw Feed Service in Houston. I don’t know anyone who works harder than him. One of the things I learned from him is if there’s a problem, just take some time and figure it out. I can solve it.”
Morgan said he was surprised to learn he had been nominated by a co-worker for the “Diversity Award” and “honored” to then be chosen as a recipient.
“I was really taken back at first thinking someone had been looking at me and thinking I was worthy of being considered,” Morgan said. “It was humbling. Then to learn the panel chose me because they believed the work
I was doing represented the university well, I was very proud.”
Morgan also credited his parents with inspiring his work ethic and tremendous appetite for learning.
“My mom went back to college while raising three kids and graduated at the top of her class in nursing school,” Morgan said. “There’s no excuse for me not to succeed.”
He’s filled each semester at Mississippi State with an average of 20 hours of classes and gone to summer school, too, and is on pace to earn two degrees next semester.
“I like learning,” he said. “I like to learn new things and how to figure stuff out.”
His favorite among all the classes he’s taken – world geography.
“Dr. (Joan) Mylroie makes every lesson fascinating by dressing as a character from the region we’re studying,” Morgan said.
Morgan plans to enter the “Teach for America” program after graduation while he works toward a master’s degree. He ultimately wants to teach in inner-city schools.
“To teach, you have to know what you can bring to the education system,” Morgan said. “This experience (Teach for America) will benefit me as I go forward.”
Upon completion of the program, Morgan said he’s willing to go anywhere across the nation or internationally to make an impact in students’ lives.
“There’s so much I want to see and experience,” Morgan said. “I believe I can have an influence.”