The day Rebecca Morgan thought would never come is just moments away. After almost two decades of pursuing her bachelor’s degree, she will finally walk across the Coppin State University commencement stage on May 23. Hoping that her dedication to education would inspire her three grandchildren, Morgan is on the verge of completing a journey she started in 1992.
“It feels great,” Morgan said. “I finished something I started.”
Originally from Lynchburg, Va., she moved to Baltimore at age 12 and graduated from Edmondson High School in 1965.
“I always loved school,” she said. “I wasn’t an ‘A’ student, but I enjoyed learning.”
A short time later, Morgan gave birth to her daughter and worked different jobs to provide for her.
“I went to work at a bank in 1969 until 1980,” she said. “They downsized, then I went on to work for Massey’s, a store that used to be on Eutaw Street.”
But it was her job in a biology lab at Catonsville Community College that proved to be life-changing; watching students go to class everyday encouraged her to enroll.
“I realized I wanted to go,” she said. “I just decided, ‘hey, I can do this.’ I registered to go there and take courses.”
She completed her associate’s degree in general studies at Catonsville. Then, she completed one semester at the University of Baltimore but discontinued due to trouble with obtaining transportation back home from her night classes. Morgan knew she would finish, but didn’t know where or when.
In 1997, however, she suffered from a stroke that further prolonged her journey. While recovering, she babysat her grandchildren or put herself to other uses.
“She’d just help out if somebody needed help,” said Sierra Morgan of her grandmother. “We tell her all the time to ‘please sit down,’ but if she says she wants to do something, one way or another, it’s going to get done.”
Determined to enroll at Coppin in 2008, Morgan didn’t let anything stop her—not even a major surgery on her back.
“I just went on with a cane and a brace on my head,” she said. “I just went on looking like that instead of sitting out. It was a struggle. I had some ups and downs but I made it. ”
On May 23, she will finally receive her bachelor’s of science degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in English and social sciences. Uncertain of what she will do next, she plans to be an active alumna and is considering pursuing her master’s degree.
“I just want to help mankind in some kind of way,” she said.
Morgan will soon be the second person in her family to complete an undergraduate education; Sierra is Morgan’s oldest grandchild and the first in the family to finish college. With her degree, Morgan hopes to show her other grandchildren that it is never too late to go back to school.
“I’ve learned that in life you have ups and downs but you have to go with it, fight against the downs, go ahead on and do what you want to do,” Morgan said. “If you have something to achieve, achieve it against all odds.”
Sierra said the whole thing is one big surprise to her; at her grandmother’s age, she never imagined her going to back school.
“She just popped up one day and said she was going back to school,” she said. “She stuck with it. That shows a lot.”