June 26, 2017

Senior takes charge in social life after health setbacks

Editor’s note: Sammya Morgan uses the pronouns they/them.

 

Hospitalized for various medical reasons since 2011, Webster senior Sammya Morgan had to withdraw from classes because it was affecting their grades. They have been hospitalized about five times, for health complications such as ovarian cancer and pneumonia.

“My grades just were suffering because I was constantly sick [and] I was never in class, so I wasn’t making good enough grades,” Morgan said. “If you’re not in class, you can’t learn what’s going on.”

Morgan’s time at Webster began in 2011, followed by their first battle with ovarian cancer. In 2013, they were hospitalized for ovarian cancer symptoms because they thought the cancer had come back.

After spring 2014, Morgan attended community college to get their grades up and transferred back to Webster the following fall semester.

Morgan said Webster has been really good about helping them figure out who to talk to and how they can get back in school when they are medically healthy again.

“I just felt really supported from people here at Webster,” Morgan said.

Earlier this semester, they had to get their gallbladder removed and were hospitalized for a week and took another week off for recovery.

Morgan’s illnesses have not stopped them from being involved on and off campus. They are involved in many clubs and hold a leadership position in most.

Webster University senior Sammya Morgan suffered from diseases such as ovarian cancer and pneumonia, which hampered their academic performance. Today, Morgan is studying and staying involved at Webster. MELISSA BUELT / The Journal

Webster University senior Sammya Morgan suffered from diseases such as ovarian cancer and pneumonia, which hampered their academic performance. Today, Morgan is studying and staying involved at Webster.
MELISSA BUELT / The Journal

As a freshman, Morgan was treasurer of an organization on-campus called Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). They were involved in Literature club, and are treasurer and secretary of African American Women’s Society. In 2011, they became a member of the Association for African American Collegians (AAAC) and they are the current president of the Society of International Languages and Cultures (SILC).

Morgan is an English major with a creative writing emphasis, as well as a dual minor in French and women and gender studies. They write about realistic people and what makes their relationships function or not function.

A favorite story of theirs was about an uncle trying to figure out how to deal with his niece who is transitioning to be a boy and becoming his nephew.

In their spare time, Morgan runs their own website and blog where they post original short stories and ongoing novel projects.

“I just want to develop my skills as a writer and share what I’m doing with people,” Morgan said.

Morgan has been on Tumblr, a microblogging and social network website, since 2011, and said it is where they have met a lot of their good, online friends.

Tumblr is where Morgan began talking with Nadia Schilling, from Sweden, and was able to develop a long-distance friendship with and talk daily.

Schilling said a defining moment for their friendship was the first time they met properly in March of 2015 when Morgan was able to study abroad in Nice, France through Webster. Schilling took the opportunity to meet Morgan for the first time.

“While the both of us were nervous before our first meeting, we knew afterwards that this is a friendship that hopefully will last for a long time,” Schilling said.

Morgan has friends all over the world through the online community and from traveling abroad to Geneva, Nice and Paris. They said their friends abroad have been very supportive and if they are struggling at night, there is someone that they can reach out to and who is awake.

“[Tumblr] was a way for us to get to know each other,” Morgan said.

Morgan also has helped manage a mental health blog since 2014, which gives people advice from a peer perspective. Morgan said it is people with mental illness helping other people with mental illness.

“We use to have lawyers on the blog and people who actually work in the mental health field, and do a lot of stuff to help combat the mental health stigma that exists in our society,” Morgan said.

Schilling said that her friendship with Morgan is less about the grand gestures, and more about the comfort in small things. When Morgan was thinking about changing their name, Schilling said Morgan would ask questions about what name looked and sounded best.

“Sometimes it is about listening about the ridiculous things that happen in a day, or trying to give advice on things I actually know something about,” Schilling said.

Schilling said seeing Morgan endure past the cancer was less inspiring as it was a part of their friendship.

“Enduring it was not what was the inspiring part, though I realize it should be, but seeing them grow far beyond what I thought was possible during such a short period of their life,” Schilling said.

Schilling described Morgan as a very empathetic person, who listens and tries very hard to help, the best they can.

“They won’t hesitate to bring a dose of reality into the conversation, in case it is needed, but most of the time they listen and supports,” Schilling said.

Visit Morgan’s blog at www.sammyaworks.com.

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  • HaroldAMaio

    —-combat the mental health stigma
    ???

    You have misplaced your priorities, you combat people who
    proffer that prejudice.

    When you hitch your voice to that prejudice, you
    become the offender.

    Harold A. Maio, retired mental
    health editor