by Bridget Locke, Director of Strategic Communications
Morgan Milledge, Excelsior Springs, MO native and Park University English major, knew she wanted to make a difference in the world long before she arrived on Park’s campus.
“I started volunteering regularly with non-profit organizations in high school with my grandma and sister,” Morgan said. “That was the first time I realized how many people around me were in need. It was eye-opening.”
Her experience and compassion have paid off. As part of a pilot competitive scholarship program in the Park University Hauptmann School of Public Affairs, Morgan, a sophomore, was selected to be a Park University Service Scholar. During the selection process, participating students were asked to reflect on prior community service experiences and share how giving back impacted their world view. Morgan’s familiarity with volunteering gave her a clear perspective and solid advantage.
As part of the program, Morgan takes a leading role in steering her PS125 Lifespan Development classmates through a series of exercises: reading organizations’ annual reports, examining their needs and impact, and sending out requests for proposals. The class, taught by Brian Cowley, Ph.D., professor of psychology, will select a deserving non-profit to gift with $1,000 once their analysis is over. (The non-profit donations and the three-credit-hour scholarships are funded by a 2019 Park University Spark Tank grant that the Hauptmann School received for this project.)
Morgan is careful to give her classmates equal credit for digging in and doing the work that will make a difference.
“Even though I have a leadership role in the project, we’re all working hard to learn more about community needs,” she said. “Every person involved plays an important part in picking the right organization to support. It’s been a truly collaborative effort.”
Morgan hopes to see the project grow in participant number – and funding – in the years to come. She also has plans to grow her giving once her time as a Service Scholar ends.
“I’ve learned so much more about philanthropy through this process,” she said. “There are so many worthy organizations in the area. I will walk away from this experience with a stronger understanding of how they all work to benefit our community … and with a long list of organizations that I plan to support in the future.”