Sep 15, 2016
Humboldt State Social Work senior Morgan Burris has been given a California State University Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement.
Since a devastating car accident in 2010, Burris has focused on rehabilitating herself and through this process, has been inspired to get an education and committed to having a positive impact in the community.
HSU President Lisa Rossbacher recommended Burris for the award, which is given every year to one student from each CSU who demonstrates superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service, and financial need. It comes with a $6,000 scholarship for the 2016-17 school year. Burris has been invited to receive the award from Chancellor Timothy White at a ceremony in Long Beach in September.
As a young mother of two in her early 20s, Burris was working as a waitress and wasn’t highly motivated to go to college. On April 14, 2010, in a terrible car accident, she slammed into a light pole at 75 miles per hour and sustained a severe head injury that changed her life. Many parts of her personal memory were entirely erased. She doesn’t remember much of her childhood, and she has no memory of the birth of her children.
Months of recovery – first in Redding, then at UC Davis, then home at St. Joseph’s Hospital – included trauma rehabilitation, and physical, speech, and occupational therapies. Throughout this recovery process, she and her mother received critical help from social workers. Burris also received help from Making Headway, a local agency providing services for survivors of brain injuries. The people at that program helped her reintegrate into society and inspired her to help others.
Just four months after her accident, she began her education at College of the Redwoods, where she eventually learned coping skills with the assistance of tutors and other student services. She is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Humboldt State, earning a 3.4 GPA as a full-time student while coping with memory loss, ongoing rehabilitation, and raising two children. She’s now volunteering at Making Headway, where she will also be doing her senior internship. Burris says she’s interested in working with veterans, abused children and elderly, accident survivors, and the mentally ill.
After completing her bachelor’s degree, Burris plans on enrolling in the Social Work graduate program at HSU.
“It is very appreciated to be noticed for my academic and personal triumphs,” Burris said of the award. “I am extremely appreciative for this, and so is my family. I will continue to keep my academics at the forefront of my life.”
About the CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement
The CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement recognizes students who epitomize superior academic performance, exemplary community service and significant personal achievements. These students also overcome tremendous personal hardships and demonstrate financial need. The base scholarship is $6,000 with opportunities to receive enhanced awards.
The William Randolph Hearst Foundation initiated the program in 1984 with an endowment that supports six scholars. Individual contributions from members of the CSU Board of Trustees and CSU Foundation Board of Governors, in addition to other supporters, sustain 23 awards. Campus presidents nominate one recipient per campus.