Morgan Dooley, a pre-med student in her second year at Emory University, holds awards for the highest average in English, Chemistry, and Spanish at Atlanta’s B.E. Mays High School. She earned awards for regional math and science fair projects, and scored a perfect 800 on the Verbal section of the SAT. Morgan was vice president of her senior class, captain of the school Quiz Bowl Team, and president of her church youth group. Serving as a peer tutor, however, was the activity that meant the most to her in high school. One of Morgan’s most cherished awards is the one she received for her dedication to the tutoring program.
When Morgan joined a scuba diving club at her high school, she had no idea that it would lead to an experience that would have profound meaning for her. On a dive trip off the coast of Florida, she saw the wreck of the “Ivory,” a slave ship that sank when it hit a coral reef in 1850. The dive club members, all of them African-Americans, were deeply moved. They raised money for a bronze statue that would memorialize the slaves who died, chained together in the hold of the ship. For Morgan, the return to the “Ivory” and the placement of the statue onto the wreckage was a life-changing experience, one that called to mind the Yoruba proverb, “If we stand tall, it is because we stand on the backs of those who came before us.”