Meet a Shocker: Morgan Bretches


Morgan Bretches, from Wellington, recently was offered a position as laboratory assistant at Mayo Clinic, where she will investigate the meningeal lymphatic system and the brain.

Morgan is one of more than 1,200 students eligible for fall 2020 graduation. Learn more about her time at Wichita State and what is next for the grad. 

What is your degree in?

In December 2020, I will obtain a Bachelor of Science in public health sciences. 

What led you to Wichita State to begin with?

Being a first-generation and a non-traditional student, I wanted a place where I would fit in and find many other students with similar paths as myself. Due to the large first-generation and non-traditional student population at Wichita State, I found that and so much more.

How are you feeling leading up to graduation?

I am incredibly excited in these few months leading up to graduation. Though it is stressful at times, I could not be happier moving forward to the next steps in life.

What has been your most helpful learning experience while a student at Wichita State?

There have been so many! The professors within the public health sciences and biological sciences have been very supportive but also continue to push students to better themselves.

The most helpful learning experience recently has been in Dr. Suzanne Hawley's Leadership in Self and Society. In that class, students must design an adaptive leadership challenge. For mine, I chose hosting a virtual event focused on inspiring and empowering individuals with disabilities to pursue careers in medicine and science through a national organization called the American Physician Scientists Association (APSA).

Through APSA's support, my adaptive leadership challenge is going quite well and is slated to occur on the International Day of Disabled Persons on Dec. 3, 2020. So far, as the lead organizer, I have obtained nationally recognized keynote speakers to include Dr. Lisa Meeks and Timothy Montgomery, connected to the University of Michigan and University of California-San Francisco respectively. Through Dr. Hawley's class and her pushing me to grow as a leader, I have experienced so many new things that I will carry forward to my future endeavors.

What was been your biggest challenge as a student, and how did you overcome it?

Being a student with a chronic disease is challenging and has been my biggest challenge at Wichita State. I have overcome the challenges associated by having unrivaled support and understanding professors/faculty, and practicing good self-care. Things like eating healthy, exercising, yoga, and reading go far to take your mind off stressful times.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be at the beach!

Recently, I was offered a job at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.

I will be working as a lab assistant in a brand-new neuroimmunology lab focusing on the meningeal lymphatics of the brain in health and disease. I could not be more honored or humbled to receive such an incredible opportunity, only possible because I am a proud Shocker!

After gaining more laboratory and research experience, I plan to apply to MD/PhD programs, where I will obtain both MD and PhD degrees. As a physician-scientist, I have an overarching goal of improving clinical outcomes and curing disease. In fact, did you know that there are 10,000 known diseases or conditions affecting humans, and only 500 have treatments or cures? This not-so-fun fact is my motivation for pursuing a challenging future with lofty goals.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your time at Wichita State or your post-graduation plans? 

I was going to apply to MD/PhD programs this year; and unfortunately, COVID-19 has thrown a wrinkle in that. However, I believe that everything happens for a reason and as it should; and due to the delay in applying, I received a job offer at one of the most prestigious medical and research organizations in the world.

What advice would you give other Wichita State students?

Do not compare yourself to others! Everyone is in different walks of life, and comparing yourself to them will not lead to anything more than an increase in anxiety.

Get involved as early as you can. Professors preach about being a part of organizations or committees or extracurriculars, and they have incredibly valid reasons for suggesting that to students.

College is what you make it. Your success depends on you and the support from those who surround you. At Wichita State, the support is provided, and the professors and faculty will do what they can to help you achieve more than you dreamed possible. However, the rest is on you. Find something (anything!) that you are passionate about and embrace the adventure.

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