The University of Georgia
Morgan, Mia Catharine

UGA's Amazing Students

Mia Catharine Morgan

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October 13, 2006

Her experience at UGA has opened the world up for Mia Catharine Morgan. She does a lot of the same things that many undergraduates do: she hangs out at Jittery Joe’s at the Student Learning Center and plays club and intramural sports. She even helps coach the local girls varsity high school tennis team. But with the help of her professor, William Kisaalita, she also received financial support from the National Science Foundation and traveled to Uganda. She used her skills as an engineering student to help develop a cooling system for local farmers that uses no electricity. While she was in Africa, she saw corruption and war first-hand, and as a result, she has vowed to spend her life after graduation by helping people who live in third-world countries to help develop stable infrastructure systems and fight the spread of diseases caused by poor water and nutrition.

Expected graduation:

May 2008

University highlights, achievements and awards:

I’ve been a member of Phi Mu sorority since my freshman year, and this year I will serve as the Phi Mu intramural sport representative. I was also involved with the UGA Dance Marathon during my freshman and sophomore year where I helped to raise $38,000 for Children’s Miracle Network. I served on the media committee. Last year, I received the John G. Hollingsworth Mathematics Award for excellence in undergraduate mathematics studies. After my freshman year, I studied conservation in New Zealand and Fiji. This past summer, I worked on a National Science Foundation engineering research project in Uganda, where I helped develop a cooling system for small farmers that doesn’t use electricity. While in Uganda, I also worked with YoungLife Uganda and the NDORWA East Students Association human rights group. Last year, I became a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the UGA club tennis team, which won the USTA Club Tennis Southern Championship. In Athens, I am a YoungLife leader at Clarke Central High School where I help coach the varsity girls tennis team.

Hometown:

Atlanta, Ga.

High School:

Westminster High School

Family Ties to UGA:

Both my mother and father attended UGA and are currently active members on the Parents Council. My brother also attends UGA and is in his third year as an art major.

I chose to attend UGA because...

...my father has woken me up by barking in my ear ever since I can remember. Seriously though, I choose UGA because I was really interested in the great study-abroad program, but I also just love Athens. Athens has everything from the small-town feel to an incredible music scene. Where else can you go rafting and make it to class in the same day?

My favorite things to do on campus are...

...playing for the UGA club tennis team and playing intramural flag football, exploring North Campus, and going to watch UGA gymnastics meets and football games.

When I have free time, I like...

...to go to the lake with my friends. If it’s just a free afternoon in Athens, I’m either hanging out with my YoungLife kids at Clarke Central or playing tennis.

The craziest thing I've done is...

...rafted class five rapids on the Nile in Uganda, gone skydiving in Fiji, hiked a glacier in New Zealand, and been surfing in Costa Rica. UGA has provided me with all of these ridiculous experiences, and I couldn’t possibly pick just one.

My favorite place to study is...

...the fourth floor of the SLC, west wing, left side, closest to the stadium for the great view. What can I say? It works. I’ve also recently become a Jittery Joe’s junky, but there’s fierce competition for seats there, so it’s not always possible.

My favorite professor is...

...William Kisaalita. Dr. Kisaalita is from Uganda, and he took me there this past summer to work on a research project. He is an inspiration to me because he showed me how even in a consumer-driven world, your work can have meaning and actually change people’s lives for the better. I was able to talk with him for hours about the frustrations, heartbreak and corruption I saw and experienced in Uganda. He sincerely cares about making students aware of global issues and helping them to become socially-conscious engineers. His drive and passion are a model for me, and I hope to one day have the impact on others that he has had on me.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...

...my grandfather. He died last November and is probably the smartest man I’ll ever meet. Not only did he teach me my mean poker skills, but he also taught me so much about how to live life. I think he was more excited about me skydiving than I was, and I would love to spend just one more afternoon with him so he could use his wisdom and perspective to help me figure out my future like he used to do.

If I knew I could not fail, I would...

...end the fighting in Northern Uganda. The children of the Acholi tribe have been subjected to a horrific rebel war there for more than twenty years. They’ve not only been victims, but they have also been kidnapped as child soldiers. I have met many of these children myself, and I know they have suffered terribly because of the fighting. However their spirits are still strong, and they’ll tell you that all they want is to go school and to sleep without fear of being killed.

After graduation, I plan to...

...go to graduate school and get a M.D./Ph.D. in biological engineering and then work with third-world countries to help develop stable infrastructures and fight the spread of diseases caused by poor water systems and nutrition.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...

...spending the summer in Uganda with three other UGA engineering students. I got to become very close with the local students working on my project, and they really opened my eyes not only to their unique culture, but also to many aspects about my own culture that I take for granted. Seeing the way people live in Africa—the hardships and the beauty—really changed how I see and approach my life back in Athens. It was incredible to see first hand how the cooling systems I helped develop will help the farmers in Uganda. I also got to do and see unbelievable things—like swim in the Nile and track chimps in the Congo—which I never thought I would get to experience.