An 'incredible young lady'
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"When you do your best, it seems like things will come about to help you with your future."
"You don't know until you try."
Morgan Irons grew up hearing and applying these words.
Her mom was raised in a family that stressed the importance of doing one's best, whether it was in Boy Scouts, callings or educational pursuits, and passed this attitude on to her children.
Morgan's efforts are paying off.
An 18-year old member of the Yorktown Ward, Newport News Virginia Stake, she received the 2012 National Samsung $20,000 scholarship. She was chosen by the American Legion National Committee and was one of nine national winners out of 97 state winners who were submitted by the 50 Girls State and 50 Boys State programs.
She was recently admitted to Duke University as part of the early action program, which selected 753 of 2,540 applicants, fewer than a third of those who applied.
It seems as if she has followed the advice of President Gordon B. Hinckley, who said, "Just do the best you can, but be sure it is your very best."
So far, she's off to a good start.
She has been involved with food drives, project ASK — a student organization service project that supports children with cancer and their families, chaired a project with the March of Dimes as the president of Future Business Leaders of America and completed an oyster restoration project in the Chesapeake Bay.
She does all of this in addition to working as a research assistant to two of the research scientists at NASA Langley research center in the material science department, (incidentally, the two scientists will be publishing a paper soon in which Morgan will be referenced, so she will be published before she graduates high school). In her spare time Morgan is co-captain of the color guard team, sings opera, once attended forestry camp, is in the process of writing two novels — one a historical fiction piece on Lincoln and the other a fantasy, with the help of a nationally published author who lives in the area — is active in debate in school, and is a contract model and actress.
Most of this is not information Morgan readily gives up, however. During her 15-minute interview with Church News, she spoke of her reaction to receiving the scholarship and of her plans for the future, but said little of her extracurricular activities. In fact, it took an interview with Bonnie Crews, director of Virginia Girls State, to discover the breadth of Morgan's accomplishments.
"Wow. What an incredible young lady," Ms. Crews said.
With all of her talents and background, Morgan was still shocked to find out she had received the $20,000 Samsung scholarship.
"When I saw that I had gotten the scholarship, it was one of those mouth-dropping moments when you don't know what to do with yourself," Morgan said.
These successes have not been without challenges.
In her early teens, her competitive dancing career came to a halt when doctors found a non-cancerous tumor in her leg. Her leg broke during recovery from an experimental procedure and she had an external fixature placed in her left fibula for almost a year as a result. She recovered, but has gained empathy toward others in similar situations.
"It's kind of what has set her on her career path," said her father, Lee Irons.
Morgan acknowledged the role of the gospel in her decision to pursue biomedical engineering and the sense of peace she feels when she reads scriptures and prays. The discovery of her career path was not by coincidence, she said.
"Certain things happen for a reason and the experience I had with my leg that inspired me to go into a medical field, I know God had a part in that and He wanted me to know I should go into that."
She is friendly, outgoing, involved, spreads her time out and makes good grades, too, said Scott Marlowe, bishop of her ward. He describes her as a "good, moral young woman by all standards."
"It's just her character that she is a good young woman," Bishop Marlowe said.