Morgan Merriman ’13 Named Fulbright Scholar

Morgan Merriman ’13

News Story: April 22, 2013

Winning a Fulbright Scholarship requires much more than scholastic excellence. The selection committee expects a proposal that is both ambitious yet feasible, a program that will further the Fulbright aims of scholarship and diplomacy and an individual with the proven abilities to put word into action, as much ambassador as academic.

Fortunately, Sacred Heart University senior Morgan Merriman is used to standing out from the crowd. A senior computer science major with a focus on game design, she carries one of the heaviest workloads on campus. Then she adds the Honors Program to turn it up a notch. Throw in a minor in graphic design, while balancing a scholarship to play NCAA Division 1 women’s basketball from November to March and NCAA Division 1 women’s lacrosse in the spring, and you’ve got someone who doesn’t just stand out – she’s going places.

Albania, specifically.

This is the fourth Fulbright awarded at Sacred Heart—two to students and two to faculty—in the last seven years. That in itself is an impressive feat that places SHU and its students among the most elite institutions and scholars in the country.

Merriman will be putting all her skills to use during her time in and around the Albanian capital of Tirana. Her work will be two-fold. The Morgan-the-Computer-Sci-Graduate will be teaching fifth- through ninth-grade boys and girls the basics of computer programming. She will be working under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and Science in direct response to Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha’s call for stronger educational foundations in information communications and technology.

Meanwhile, the Morgan-the-Champion-Varsity-Athlete has been granted the opportunity to establish competitive basketball leagues for girls, also in grades five through nine, in the capital and two nearby regions.

“Sports have played such a huge part in my life and given me so much confidence—especially at that age, when you’re still finding out who you are, anything to help with your confidence is pretty compelling,” Merriman says.

“She’s such an exciting individual herself,” observes her mentor, Professor Bob McCloud, who is a personal adviser to the Prime Minister and travels regularly to Albania for research and work at the Ministry of Education and Sciences. “Morgan’s work will help young Albanian programmers and provide sporting opportunities not previously available for young women.”
“Morgan is exactly the kind of student-athlete we seek out at Sacred Heart,” notes Ed Swanson who coaches women’s basketball at SHU. “The Fulbright is fantastic. I’m delighted for her, but I cannot say, knowing how she approaches things, that I’m at all surprised.”

As preparations for the trip consume what might otherwise be a hard-earned break after graduation, Merriman has opted not to return to her native Seattle this summer. She will instead remain in Connecticut where she will be hard at work learning the Albanian language in a handful of months.

Merriman’s not worried, however. By then she’ll have completed her Capstone, both her majors and two varsity sports. Learning one language from scratch in a few months should be a piece of cake.