Impacting Lives with STEM:
With Morgan L., junior Biology major and Psychology minor
Morgan is a junior in college with a passion for Women’s Health. She’s majoring in Biology and minoring in Psychology, on a premed track. Not only is Morgan passionate about science and research, but she also loves working with people – both throughout her research and with patients in clinical settings. She uses her STEM field to make connections with others and help people through the things they may be struggling with.
Morgan has known she was interested in medicine since middle school. In seventh grade she took her first biology class and also started watching Grey’s Anatomy that same year. She says,
“The show is incredibly unrealistic but seeing how doctors used the science I love to impact the lives of others was something I found beautiful. I started reading lots of books on biology topics, including The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (which I have read 3 times! Great book!), and books about genetics. It really ignited a passion for medicine in me, which I kept exploring in high school. I took a 3 year scientific research elective at my high school, and had the opportunity to spend 2 summers conducting research looking at the Neuroscience behind motor deficits in Huntington’s disease. This experience taught me so much about the scientific method and seeing the connection between research and medicine.”
For Morgan, her passion started in middle and high school, but she’s continued to feed it throughout college.
“Two of my most inspiring experiences have been my externships with a Fertility Doctor and a Gynecology surgeon. With the fertility doctor I got to see a mom who had been struggling with IVF* have an 8 week ultrasound, and with the gynecology surgeon I got to go in the OR and see surgery up close and personal. Observing these clinicians in action, and seeing their grateful patients, really showed me just how much of an impact physicians can have on their patients.”
These experiences have shown her that she can use her passion for science to make a difference in people’s lives. This is such an exciting lesson, because studies have shown that one of the main reasons girls veer away from STEM fields is that they want more social careers or want to do something that they can see how it makes a difference in the world. All careers have the potential to help people, but Morgan was able to personally discover this impact in a unique way through her externships and research experiences.
Even as an undergraduate student, she’s already started to touch lives. She writes, “My favorite learning experience outside the classroom was last summer while working on my research at the Women’s Health Institute at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. I worked on the Transgender Health Initiative creating a video about Fertility Preservation for Transgender Patients and piloting videos with patients, and designed my own study looking the corporate climate on fertility preservation. I spent hours and hours reading about transgender health, fertility preservation, corporate benefits and more, and loved every minute of it. It reminded me why I am so passionate about fertility medicine and left me so much more knowledgeable than when I started. What inspired me was interacting with trans patients at the clinic and talking to members of the Transgender community about the projects I was working on.”
In class, she’s also learned new ways medicine will continue to impact people in the future. “My favorite learning experience at Lafayette has to be my Precision Medicine course I took last fall. I love Genetics and learning about the applications of genetics in medicine was incredible. I loved reading clinical trials, talking about ethics and patient care, and seeing how much of an impact genetics will have on the future of healthcare.”
She finds that so many people have stories to share about medical technology and their own personal experiences. Doctors and researchers have really touched families’ lives in a variety of ways. Morgan finds motivation in these amazing stories. “Since so many friends, family, and acquaintances know about my interest in medicine and women’s health specifically, I constantly have people telling me about advances in healthcare and things about their own healthcare experiences. On this journey I have realized that yes I love science, and that is what got me to explore medicine in the first place, but I am an extroverted people person and am invigorated by the idea of combining the science I love with building relationships with patients.”
She also know it’s okay if things don’t go perfectly immediately. She writes, “It amazes me how much things that seemed like failures when they happened actually have led me to some of my greatest opportunities. I got rejected from tons of summer internships both the summers after my freshman and sophomore years. If this had never happened, I would never have gotten to spend the summer after my freshman year working with a Radiation Oncologist (and get my research published in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology), or the summer after my sophomore year doing research at the Women’s Health Institute at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. You have to trust that it will work out, because it usually does!!”
Morgan is dedicated to pursuing her dreams, and she knows what will help her personally get there. Because of this, she makes an effort to herself feel strong and healthy every day. “Staying on top of everything really makes me feel like I can conquer my day. I enjoy starting my day reading the stream of healthcare news in my twitter feed. I also think staying healthy is super important and make an effort to eat well and go to the gym (endorphins!). Staying happy and healthy and finding inspiration in my everyday life is key. If I ever need a burst of inspiration I will also read doctor memoirs (my life goal is to write a memoir about being a fertility doctor!).” She focuses on feeling strong and setting herself up for success – both in her healthy actions like getting exercise and how she thinks. I love how she starts her morning with something she’s excited about and continues to find those moments of inspiration throughout the day.
I have no doubt that Morgan is going to go on to change lives and have an amazing career that we’ll all be hearing about. (I cannot wait to read that memoir someday!!) Morgan hopes that more women will also be able to follow their passions, like she is. She writes that, “It’s getting better, but I wish that women today knew that they should not be afraid to chase their passions. Many women are intimated by the idea of balancing a career and family. I feel lucky to have my mother as a strong female role model who balances a corporate career and family extremely well, in addition to conducting research with two strong empowered female physicians. I wish more women had a role model or mentor to inspire them, because I feel lucky to have both. That kind of support system and encouragement is crucial.”
We’re so grateful to Morgan for being one of those role models for our program! If you’d like to learn more about careers in medicine, check out letters from other role models like Alyssa Cole here. You might also be interested in the letters from infection specialists and virologists!
Has a book or movie ever inspired you? What were you inspired by?
What makes a woman inspirational?
If you could try out any career in the world, like during an externship, what would it be?
* = IVF is In Vitro Fertilization – a medical procedure that is sometimes used when parents want to have a baby but may not have been able to without the help of a doctor