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Success is All in the Family for Megan Morrison

May 1, 2014 - by Hannah Shaffer

Temperatures are rising and anticipation is building as 2014 Commencement at the University of Mount Union is quickly approaching – a day that promises to bring excitement to the Morrison family.

On Saturday, May 10, early childhood education Major Megan Morrison of Warren, PA will graduate from Mount Union while her aunt, Mount Union alumna and President and CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) Nancy Hill ’79 will present the Commencement address. Hill will present, “How do you want your eggs? Empowerment vs. Entitlement.”

“I think too much credence has been given to the notion that the Millennial Generation is a whiny, entitled bunch of pampered kids. It’s time for them to claim their place in the world and show just what they can contribute,” Hill said.

What Morrison anticipates she will miss at Mount Union following graduation, Hill confirms is what she misses most – “the cozy little bubble.” Having only the responsibility to learn, read and work out is something that many students take for granted but soon realize was a great comfort and luxury.

While Morrison claims the third floor of KHIC Library to be her favorite spot on campus due to the “tears, frustration, joy and happiness” it has seen through her four years of studying at Mount Union, Hill has a slightly more rebellious location.

“I used to like to sneak out on the roof of Elliot Hall,” Hill said. “It was quiet and peaceful and you could see practically the whole campus. They’ve probably fixed it so that you can’t do that anymore. Please, don’t try this at home.”

Not only does a love for Mount Union run through the family blood, but an enthusiasm for service as well. The example was set by Hill’s parents, who volunteered for numerous organizations and passed their passion on through the generations.

Morrison grew up completing service projects at home, such as the Pittsburgh Project with her church youth group. When she came to Mount Union, she found a perfect fit with the service fraternity on campus, Alpha Phi Omega (no hard feelings are held, as Hill is a former Alpha Chi Omega sister).

“I joined because I love what it stands for: leadership, friendship and service,” Morrison said. “I love serving and helping those less fortunate. It reminds me of how lucky I am. It’s crazy how people will come together for the greater good; it shows me that there is still good in our world.”

Hill introduced Morrison to “People Helping People,” a movement that strongly believes all great things in the world happen because of people helping other people. Through the organization, Hill travels to Ecuador two to three times a year for various volunteering opportunities in the rural Andes Mountains.

Hill surprised Morrison with a trip to the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador one summer, awakening Morrison’s passion for service and instilling in her wanderlust and a case of the travel bug.

It was in Ecuador that Morrison realized her dreams of becoming an educator.

“We had the opportunity to help build a school while we were there. The kids couldn’t stop thanking us for providing them with a place for education,” she said.

Morrison has made the trip with her aunt three times now and plans on a return in the near future.

“I think that first trip especially changed her outlook on the world,” Hill said. “When you spend time, real time, in another country and get to know the people, their customs and culture, you learn more about yourself, your country and how we fit into the rest of the world. [The trip] makes life’s little problems seem trivial and reminds us just how blessed we are.”

During her time at Mount Union, Hill also had the opportunity to travel. She remembers her favorite course at Mount Union, The Wilderness Experience, led by Dr. Steve Kramer.

“It changed me forever. Dr. Kramer developed and led an incredible program that teaches you even when you didn’t know it,” Hill said. “Leadership, group dynamics and both group and self-reliance are not things you can really learn in a classroom environment.”

According to Hill, Mount Union opened her eyes to being a curious person (the number one characteristic she looks for in potential employees), which has aided in her career as an advertising practitioner.

“Once you discover the endless worlds of possibility within advertising, it’s almost impossible for a curious and creatively driven person not to love it,” Hill said. “I’ve worked with so many different clients in so many different categories, from the largest spice company in the world to Cisco, Motorola, AOL, Sony and George Lucas. Who wouldn’t love to spend their time that way and get paid for it?”

Morrison admires her aunt’s determination, standing firm in the belief that she achieved success not from luck, but through hard work.

“Back in the early ‘80s it was still a very tough industry in which women could be successful,” Hill said. “Things have improved, but we still have a long way to go. Being named the CEO of the largest trade association representing the industry in 2008 was significant in sending the industry a signal that women could make it to the top.”

“Do not ever tell my aunt she can’t, because one way or another she will,” Morrison said. “She has earned everything she has. Aunt Nancy has proven that women can have major roles in society. I have high hopes for my future and watching her has helped shape my motivation.”

What Morrison considers her biggest challenge throughout her college career is what Hill is most proud of her niece for.

“My academic climb from freshman year to senior year started out rough. I did many typical freshman things – sleeping through class, ignoring important due dates, going out late instead of spending time in the library,” Morrison said.

However, she did not let her first year mistakes determine her future.

“I decided that’s not who I was. I made a change, I am graduating on time and I am on track to finish out with a 3.5 GPA,” Morrison said.

“Meg really took stock of her situation and herself and became the person she was destined to become,” Hill said. “She is so grounded and optimistic, that’s just heartwarming to see.”

Through the completion of an inspiring internship at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism, Morrison had the opportunity to work with amazing students and better understand autism. Her ultimate career goal is to work with autistic children, become a classroom behavioral therapist and make a difference in students’ lives.

Morrison is certainly not limiting herself with career possibilities, as she currently has applications in at Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism, Collegiate School in New York City and International School Services just to name a few.

Hill wishes that her niece would seek her own path, regardless of the path that others plan for her.

“She has to make herself happy, first and foremost,” Hill said. “I think that Megan has an intrepid spirit and a sense of wonder that will lead her to a good place.”

“I am looking forward to the next step in my life and making a change in the lives of children,” Morrison said. “I will go wherever the wind blows me, so long as it blows me somewhere I am truly needed… and preferably not back to my parents’ couch.”

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