Fall 2016


Overcoming Trauma Gives Local Mom New Direction

MORGAN BURRIS was a young mother of two, working as a waitress, and not highly motivated to go to college. Then a devastating car crash changed her outlook on education and inspired her to help others.

She’s now a Humboldt State senior studying Social Work and thriving—in June she was given a California State University Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement.

HSU President Lisa Rossbacher recommended Burris for the award, which is given every year to one remarkable student from each of the 23 CSU campuses. It comes with a $6,000 scholarship.

“It is very appreciated to be noticed for my academic and personal triumphs,” Burris says.

Those triumphs didn’t come easily. On April 14, 2010, in a terrible car accident, she slammed into a light pole at 75 miles per hour and sustained a severe head injury. Many of her personal memories were erased, including much of her childhood and the birth of her children.

Since the accident, Burris has focused on rehabilitating herself and, through this process, has been inspired to get an education and to make a positive impact in the community.

Throughout a long recovery process, she and her mother received critical help from social workers and Making Headway, a local agency providing services for survivors of brain injuries. The people at that program helped her reintegrate into society and inspired her to help others.

She is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, earning a 3.4 GPA as a full-time student while coping with memory loss, ongoing rehabilitation, and raising two children. She’s also volunteering at Making Headway, where she will also be doing her senior internship.

“I really want to work with people with brain injuries—I can relate to them in a way that many others can’t,” she says. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Burris plans on enrolling in the Social Work graduate program at HSU.