INA, Ill. (July 23, 2019) - Abby Morgan made the “logical” choice when she chose to continue her education at Rend Lake College. It was affordable and close to home. Little did she know, that logical choice would help her find her passion, helping mold the next generation of female leaders in Southern Illinois.
A Mt. Vernon Township High School graduate, Morgan describes herself as a family-oriented individual. So, staying local was always an important factor for her, both in selecting where she wanted to continue her education and where she wanted to find herself after.
“I still reside here in town and have begun to establish my own family in Mt. Vernon. That’s why Rend Lake, for me, was the most logical option. It was no more than 30 minutes away from my home, so it allowed me to commute,” Morgan said.
“The tuition was affordable, and I was still offered many of the same opportunities I desired to complete my degree in English Education. Many of my friends also attended RLC, so it was a comforting bridge between high school and that scary ‘college’ leap. There was familiarity while still providing me with the wings I needed to learn to do things on my own.”
Morgan initially sat out to teach English, knowing from the onset that she wanted to help teach and elevate local youth. She graduated RLC with her Associate of Arts degree in English and transferred on to Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she obtained a Bachelor’s in English Education with endorsements in middle school.
After college, she began her search for teaching positions in Southern Illinois, but had difficulty finding a career in her field. But, she refused to give up, throwing resume after resume out on the internet in the hopes of finding a job that would allow her to support and encourage others. That persistence paid off.
“When I saw the ad for Girl Scouts, I thought “well, I used to be a Girl Scout, and I agree with their mission statement. I’ll apply… the worst they can say is no.” I still remember the day I got the call back—there was disbelief, then so many tears of joy. At the time, I was just elated that I would no longer be struggling financially,” she expressed.
Morgan is currently the Volunteer Experience Coordinator with the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois. She manages seven Service Units/Counties from Effingham to Williamson County.
“I thoroughly enjoy it. I am a person who likes to help others, and in my position, I am always offering support so that my volunteers have the tools they need to help build our girls and future leaders. We build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place… and I truly take that to heart as part of my personal mission in my career and in life,” Morgan explained.
“Two years later, I look back and think how I had no idea how lucky I really was to have found something I enjoy doing that challenges me to grow, that utilizes my knowledge and talents, and that allows me to accomplish my own personal goals with my family.”
She credits RLC for helping her develop the skills she needed to succeed at her current position. From grammar and communication to her computer skills, Morgan says she utilizes tools she developed at Rend Lake on a daily basis.
“I am constantly reviewing reports, creating flyers, and writing professional letters, so knowing how to use these programs is essential. Studying in the education field also prepared me with the knowledge of how to work with children of different ages—in just a few short years, children respond very differently to their environment as they grow and change, and that knowledge is a valuable asset when guiding leaders on how to plan their troop meetings and educate their girls,” she said.
It’s not just what she took out of the classroom that stands out to Morgan either. She still thinks fondly of her time at RLC and the memories she created here.
“I had some classes with my friends from high school and also made many new friends. My favorite class was the Introduction to Film with Rob Little—I think he intimidated many students, but I appreciated his dry humor and the interesting material we covered. Rebecca Biggs was by far my favorite professor; she encouraged me from the very beginning to constantly hone my talents, and has been a support person for me in my academics and career search even beyond my years at RLC.“
Not just content to help her Girl Scouts, Morgan wished to offer words of advice, support and encouragement to everyone out there.
“I would say that perseverance and adaptability are two very important qualities to have. For many people, the careers we envision for ourselves are not what we end up doing. That’s okay. What is important is being able to adapt to situations, and to allow yourself to change as you grow.”
“We are always growing—it doesn’t stop when we become adults. And, if you have a dream, a desire… don’t give up on it! Persevere. Life can be so difficult, and it can feel defeating when things don’t work out the way you plan. In my job history, I had so many ‘noes’ in rejection letters and phone calls before I received my ‘yes.’ Don’t quit. Keep trying until you get your ‘yes.’ It could very well turn out even better than you imagined!”