Morgan Golden, who spent part of freshman year at University of Washington building a submarine, is the featured speaker for the Reach for the Stars Gala on Aug. 13
Morgan Golden overcame tremendous odds to earn a degree at Western Nevada College, then transfer to a four-year university. She was raised by a hard-working single parent, Holly Morrow, and she is the first in her family to attend college.
“My mom is probably the most amazing person I’ve ever met,” Morgan said. “She sacrificed, working night shifts, day shifts. She would work multiple jobs so (brother) Gavin and I had anything and everything we could have asked for. She would take the time out of her day, even after working long hours, to make sure that if we needed extra support in school, extracurriculars, or anything else, she was always there to support and take care of us.
“She always put us first, even if it meant that if there was anything that she wanted to do, or something to take care of herself, that was put last. Being older, I really value that more, just because I can clearly see the sacrifices she made.”
Morgan recently reflected on the impact that WNC’s Jump Start program has had on her education. The dual enrollment program enables juniors and seniors from various Nevada high schools and academies to earn up to an associate degree by the time they graduate from their secondary school.
“I definitely feel very fortunate, especially going to the school I am now; I can see the impact of Jump Start compared to AP classes and other high school classes. It not only helped me academically prepare for college, but it helped me on a social skill level and growing and maturing as a person. It definitely forced me at a younger age to adapt into the world I was moving into after high school,” she said.
When the University of Washington learned that Morgan successfully earned an associate degree from WNC in 2021 before graduating from CHS, the public research university gladly welcomed the enterprising student from Nevada — one of only a few studying on the Seattle campus. UW has been rewarded with an aerospace and aeronautical engineering student totally immersed in her education and future.
Morgan’s dream to become an engineer originated in elementary school and developed into a goal in middle school. It became a realistic possibility with her mother’s encouragement to enroll in WNC’s Jump Start program while attending Carson High School.
“Morgan and many others like her who have excelled through WNC’s dual credit programs make us all proud. Their success is what drives Western to continue developing great opportunities for Nevada’s students,” said WNC Liberal Arts Director Scott Morrison.
In particular, WNC’s physics, chemistry and mathematics classes developed and supported her interest in engineering. Morgan found instruction from Morrison rewarding because he taught his students how they would benefit from learning calculus.
“He was very inspirational in teaching why we learn the math that we do,” Morgan said. “He really instilled the importance of not only their material but how to apply it to the real world.”
Morrison said that the Jump Start students excelled in their precalculus and calculus classes, with Morgan bringing these classes to a higher learning level.
“Morgan, in particular, showed exceptional drive in her studies,” Morrison said. “Morgan not only worked to earn strong grades but dedicated herself to the learning process, asking thoughtful questions and exploring connections between the classroom and applied science arenas. Morgan’s approach to learning often elevated the entire class with challenging questions.
“She also supported her classmates by assisting with the group’s learning and growth. Morgan built momentum and confidence through her work with WNC, and she continues to thrive after transferring to the university.”
At Washington, her passion for learning steered her toward five engineering clubs as a freshman. In one of them, she and the other club members built a mini-submarine.
“That was the most strenuous activity that I did this year, for one of my clubs. It was a really cool opportunity,” Morgan said. “We spent three quarters of the year working on it, from designing it online, using CAD software, to actually manufacturing it, creating the coding and making sure everything worked.”
Morgan is also part of the Aerospace Engineering CubeSat team, a cutting-edge technology group working on space satellites; the ECO Car Club, which received a Chevy Blazer from General Motors to remake to more stringent environmental guidelines; the Design, Build and Fly Club, which builds small-scale airplanes and tests them in competitions; and the Society of Women Engineers.
“I’m trying to explore as many clubs and opportunities as I can and working with my hands so I can make sure I want to go into engineering,” Morgan said. “Obviously, time isn’t something I have on campus.”
With a wide range of career possibilities in engineering, Morgan believes she has narrowed it down to a particular interest: “I’ve always wanted to work in aviation of some sort, but now I’ve honed it down to wanting to do aviation design — particularly passenger aircrafts,” Morgan said. “Making things more environmentally friendly is something I’m really focusing on just because that is a problem we see nowadays as the world is running out of fossil fuels. There are things that you can change in the aviation world, so I want to focus on that.”
To meet Morgan and hear her speak, you can purchase event tickets to Reach for the Stars Black Tie Gala wnc.edu/foundation/events/reach-for-the-stars/. The elegant, starry night-themed event on Aug. 13 at Joe Dini Library benefits students seeking higher education.
To learn more about Jump Start or becoming a student at WNC, phone 775-445-3277 or go to wnc.edu/jump-start/ and/or wnc.edu/starthere/.