Brandon Morgan stared at the words, unsure of what to say. “Wow!” was what erupted first.
The 2012 Tidewater Community College graduate left for the Ivy League, private research college in Ithaca, N.Y., on Aug. 16. What was initially his dream school will become his second alma mater in addition to TCC, where he earned an Associate of Science and a 4.0 GPA.
“When I first thought of the idea, ‘From here, go anywhere,’ I never thought of it being anywhere,” Morgan says. “I really thought of it just being schools in Virginia.”
Morgan was accepted at James Madison University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Drexel University after graduating from Grassfield High in 2010, but finances led him to TCC. Admittedly, he was disappointed to be attending a community college, planning to “get a good GPA and transfer out.”
His brother, Juston, changed his thinking. Juston, who graduated from TCC before transferring to VCU, encouraged Brandon to become involved in TCC’s many student activities in addition to taking classes.
Brandon took the advice, becoming a senator with the Student Government Association and later president of the SGA on the Chesapeake Campus. He got a job in the science lab and began tutoring chemistry and math in Learning Assistance Services.
“I found my passion there, and that’s teaching,” says Morgan, who plans to become a college professor.
It was his tutoring supervisor, English professor David Ring, who urged Morgan to seek the program he wanted as a transfer option, even if that meant looking out of state. That led Morgan to apply to Cornell in addition to VCU, University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. He was accepted at all of the schools.
His essay question for Cornell asked him to write about one of the biggest obstacles he had overcome.
“I wrote about coming to TCC,” he says. “During my senior year of high school, so many of my friends were going away to school and I wasn’t. But I got a lot more out of coming here.”
Morgan estimates he would have had “zero chance” of getting into Cornell directly from high school, “but I really applied myself here,” he says.
He lists Ring among his mentors in addition to chemistry professor Eric Hayes and advisors Sara Hair and Vince Gary.
“I’m really at home at TCC; I’m going to miss it,” Morgan says. “But I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”