Morgan Golden, who spent part of his freshman year at the University of Washington building a submarine, is the featured speaker at the August 13 Reach for the Stars gala.
Morgan Golden overcame tremendous odds to graduate from Western Nevada College and then transfer to a four-year college. She was raised by a hardworking single mother, Holly Morrow, and she is the first in her family to attend college.
“My mom is probably the most amazing person I’ve ever met,” Morgan said. “She sacrificed herself, working nights, days. She worked multiple jobs, so (brother) Gavin and I had everything we could have asked for. She took time out of her day, even after long hours of work, to make sure that if we needed extra support at school, in extracurricular activities or otherwise, she was always there to support us and take care of us.
“She always put us first, even if that meant if there was something she wanted to do, or something to take care of herself, it was put last. Being older, I really appreciate that more, just because I can clearly see the sacrifices she made.
Morgan recently reflected on the impact WNC’s Jump Start program had on her upbringing. The Dual Enrollment Program allows juniors and seniors from various Nevada high schools and academies to earn up to an associate’s degree by the time they graduate from high school.
“I really feel very lucky, especially to go to the school that I am now; I can see the impact of Jump Start compared to AP classes and other high school classes. It not only helped me prepare academically for college, but it helped me with social skills and growing and maturing as a person. It definitely forced me younger to adapt to the world I was in after high school,” she said.
When the University of Washington learned that Morgan had successfully completed an associate’s degree from WNC in 2021 before graduating from CHS, the public research university happily welcomed the enterprising student from Nevada – l one of the few to study on the Seattle campus. UW was rewarded by an aerospace and aeronautical engineering student fully immersed in her education and her future.
Morgan’s dream of becoming an engineer was born in elementary school and turned into a goal in college. It became a realistic possibility with her mother’s encouragement to enroll in WNC’s Jump Start program while attending Carson High School.
“We are all proud of Morgan and many others like her who have excelled in WNC’s dual credit programs. Their success is what drives Western to continue to develop great opportunities for Nevada students,” said Scott Morrison, WNC Director of Liberal Arts.
In particular, WNC’s physics, chemistry, and math classes developed and sustained his interest in engineering. Morgan found Morrison’s instruction rewarding because he taught his students how they would benefit from learning calculus.
“He’s been very inspiring in teaching why we learn the math we do,” Morgan said. “He really instilled the importance of not just their material, but how to apply it to the real world.”
Morrison said Jump Start students excel in their precalculus and calculus classes, with Morgan taking those classes to the next level of learning.
“Morgan, in particular, has shown exceptional drive in her studies,” Morrison said. “Morgan not only worked to get good grades, but was dedicated to the learning process, asking thoughtful questions and exploring connections between the classroom and applied science fields. Morgan’s approach to learning often uplifted the whole class with difficult questions.
“She also supported her classmates by helping the group learn and grow. Morgan has built momentum and confidence through her work with WNC, and she continues to thrive after transferring to college.
In Washington, her passion for learning led her to five freshman engineering clubs. In one, she and the other club members built a mini-submarine.
“It was the most intense activity I’ve done this year, for one of my clubs. It was a really cool opportunity,” Morgan said. “We spent three quarters of the year working on it, from designing it online, using CAD software, to building it, creating the code and making sure everything worked.”
Morgan is also part of the Aerospace Engineering CubeSat team, an advanced technology group working on space satellites; the ECO Car Club, which received a Chevy Blazer from General Motors to remake it under stricter environmental guidelines; the Design, Build and Fly Club, which builds small-scale aircraft and tests them in competitions; and the Society of Women Engineers.
“I try to explore as many clubs and opportunities as possible and work with my hands to make sure I want to get into engineering,” Morgan said. “Obviously time is not something I have on campus.”
With a wide range of career opportunities in engineering, Morgan thinks she’s narrowed it down to a narrow interest: “I’ve always wanted to work in aviation, but now I’ve narrowed it down to wanting to do design aeronautics. — especially passenger planes,” Morgan said. “Making things more environmentally friendly is something I’m really focused on, simply because it’s a problem we see these days when the world is running out of fossil fuels. There are things you can change in the world of aviation, so I want to focus on that.
To meet Morgan and hear him speak, you can purchase tickets to the Reach for the Stars Black Tie Gala event at wnc.edu/foundation/events/reach-for-the-stars/. The elegant starry night-themed event on August 13 at the Joe Dini Library benefits students who wish to pursue higher education.
To learn more about Jump Start or to become a WNC student, call 775-445-3277 or visit wnc.edu/jump-start/ and/or wnc.edu/starthere/.