At the age of 3, Leah Morgan knew she would be a nurse after a scary episode that involved taking care of her father, who had been stung by a swarm of wasps.
Morgan remembers all the details. Her dad’s fishing rod caught a wasp nest during a family vacation. It did not end well. His body ended up with more than 20 stings, and the family went with him to the hospital Emergency Room. His face was so swollen that it was unrecognizable.
“Even though my dad looked scary, I gave him my teddy bear, put bandages on him, and sat by him the entire time just in case he needed something,” she said. “That’s when a family member of mine told me I would be a great nurse.”
She carried this memory through college as motivation to become a nurse. This fall, Morgan began her newest turn on her dream journey by becoming an assistant professor of nursing at Queens.
After some early anxiety over the challenging nursing curriculum at UNC-Chapel Hill, Morgan ended up liking the program. She graduated in 2020 with both a bachelor’s degree as well as a Ph.D. in nursing.
While navigating through school, Morgan faced some tricky turns. challenges. In 2019, her fiancé got a double lung transplant as a result of cystic fibrosis. She took eight months off from school to take care of him.
“It was a crazy experience,” she said. She knew enough to know that it was scary, but she didn’t fully understand the recovery process.
Her fiance Tabor Evans is grateful.
“As a partner, you hope that your loved one can and will be there when you need them, and not many people get that opportunity,” Evans wrote in a recent email. “I, however, got to see that in full swing. Not a minute went by where she wasn’t checking on me or asking if I needed anything. I’ve had hospital admissions with less care than what I received every day.”
After his recovery, and time winding down for Morgan to graduate, it was time to find a new location to live. Morgan was working one day a week on the pediatrics floor of the hospital in Chapel Hill. But the income was not enough to support her household. Soo she looked for other jobs.
She landed a job with the Mecklenburg County Health Department, providing COVID-19 vaccinations to patients. A month later, she won the teaching position at Queens.
The most challenging adjustment for Morgan is being new to teaching.
“It’s been interesting to see the flip side and think about when I complained about a grade as a student,” she said. Now, she realizes that grading is difficult, and educators have many assignments and responsibilities.
Morgan hopes to give her students the tools and the skills to become resilient human beings and nurses. She plans on teaching her students the reality of nursing and mentally preparing them for the challenge.
“As a recent student I hope to just give the students the passion that I have for nursing and pass that on.”