Rugby lesson provides illuminating path for Divine Savior senior

Young, Gifted & Black Series

By Taki S. Raton

Morgan Harris

For three consecutive years, from 2009 through 2011, this Milwaukee area senior earned First Honors at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School (DSHA), an honor roll listing for students receiving a grade point average between 3.6 and 4.0.

The DSHA Dasher’s Rugby team honored her with the Rookie of the Year award in 2009 and her favorite subjects in high school are math and science.

She is young, gifted and Black. Morgan Harris is described by her school counselor Ginny Dubinksi as “a strong student with a healthy competitive drive and a unique sense of humor.”

This competitive drive is amply reflected in her sportsmanship at DSHA. Morgan was a member of the Junior Varsity Basketball Team playing the forward/post position during her freshman and sophomore years. She was advanced to Impact Team Basketball and the Lady Stars AAU Basketball while also in the 9th and 10th grades.

But her passion is the full contact sport of Rugby where the object of the game is to run the ball to the opponent’s end and touch it down over the rival’s goal line. In her forward-flanker position, Morgan was additionally a Rugby team member in grades 9 through 12 during the same time she played basketball.

She was awarded the recognition of Rugby Rookie of the Year in 2009, All-State Rugby Player in 2010 and 2011 and was a member of the Rugby State Championship High School Team throughout her high school career from 2009 through her senior year present. From 2009 through 2011, Morgan was a member of the Rugby Midwest Regional Championship High School Team and participated in rugby national tournaments in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

“Morgan takes a very active and aggressive approach on the field,” observes Dubinksi.

“As a school that prides itself on rigorous academics and character building, programs like rugby have provided a much needed outlet for students like Morgan.” She adds that as a senior and leader on the team, “Morgan has blossomed into an outgoing and quirky student who is inviting and accepting to all.” It was, however, over these three years of the rugby nationals that would provide a reflective beacon guiding her path to success.

“Divine Savior Holy Angels rugby was the best that the high school girl’s level had ever seen and our gym walls have banners from six consecutive years to prove it,” she writes in a college admission review profile essay entitled “The Rugby Way.” In her freshman year of tournaments, Morgan felt a sense of entitlement that the “game would be ours and we knew that we were destined to succeed because it was our right.” But it was a fleeting vision. DSHA finished third in the nation that year and the following two years as well.

“The loss I suffered that day changed me forever, but only for the better,” she recalls. The 17-year-old shares that being the best on a team meant being your best as an individual.

“I suddenly understood that to be the best as a team, we needed to exhaust ourselves past our personal limits. We needed to reject mediocrity by giving everything to exceed and rise above any self imposed limitations we may place on ourselves. Today and every day, I remember the lesson that this experience has taught me and know that I cannot expend a minimal amount of effort to reach my highest potential.” She adds that to be her best, “I must try to surpass my best.”

A steadfast commitment to lessons learned as mirrored in her current 3.78 GPA further demonstrates her belief as echoed in her writing noting: “Every day that I reach beyond myself and my expectations, I grow and progress as a person and come closer to emerging as my better self.” Upon contact with and recommendation by DSHA Student Service Director David Lynch, Morgan’s G.P.A. and 24 cumulative ACT score further qualified her for the highly selective 100 Black Men Chicago Chapter sponsored Honor Student Reception (HSR) held at the UIC Forum on the campus of the University of Illinois Chicago Circle Campus.

Morgan numbered among the total sixteen seniors from Milwaukee, Kenosha, Beloit and Madison identified this year to attend the annual October second Friday invitational to interact with college and university representatives from around the country to explore admissions and scholarship prospects. These Southeast Wisconsin students joined over 200 African American invited seniors from the Chicago area who met the selection criteria of a minimum 3.3 G.P.A. and 23 cum or above on the ACT.

“I felt honored to be recognized for my accomplishments and I was excited to go to Chicago ,” she said of this event. “The experience was not only a very valuable learning experience, but also an opportunity to build relationships with others with similar achievements and goals,” she adds.

Dubinski reveals that although Morgan enjoys taking courses in a variety of disciplines, that math and science are her preference. Her school counselor says that “Though medicine is her career goal, Morgan finds the building and shaping of objects to be quite exhilarating and states that anywhere you look, there is a shape that has been mathematically fashioned using formulas from geometry.”

Dubinski concludes that Morgan “has continuously pushed what is expected. She has found a voice that allows her unique personality to shine.”

“I really enjoy attending Divine Savior Holy Angels,” she says of her high school years. “The teachers and staff make sure that students get the most out of their education. They are always there to help with any questions and concerns and are more than willing to spend extra time outside of class if needed.” She maintains that the atmosphere at DSHA “is a great platform for bettering yourself academically and growing into a stronger individual. I have grown tremendously as a communicator, critical thinker, believer, and leader.”

Morgan’s college plans are to attend Washington University in St. Louis and major in Business and Pre-Med. Her goal is to become an Anesthesiologist.

“Morgan is the youngest of three children and is truly an inspiration,” says her father James Harris. He shares that his daughter’s “faith, family, friends, academics, sports and community involvement keeps her engaged,” and that in college, “she will continue with the same great dedication, curiosity and concern 5that has been displayed throughout her life. These interests and attributes will not only eventually make her a great physician, but a great human being.”

Her victories and defeats in Rugby as expressed in the college essay writing indeed reflect a personal guiding beacon on her road to success. In closing thoughts of “The Rugby Way” she expresses: “I know now that no goal is impossible to reach but that the effort put into it determines the level of success. This is the mindset with which I will approach my college experience.

I will welcome the demanding workloads and even accept the long nights of studying because each obstacle, every form of adversity, and all challenges that I can experience will take me further on my journey to becoming my best and fulfilling my dreams.”