Natalie Morrow - Illinois Nomination & Photography by Sheila Harris Issue 59 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: Natalie Morrow excels in both academics and athletics, leading her senior class not only in rank but also in student engagement. Natalie wears many titles, including Student Council President, Junior Rotarian, and MVP of her varsity soccer team. Natalie’s personal journey however is what fuels her determination. She grew up with a parent that suffers from Epilepsy, which has impacted her future endeavors. Endeavors which include working in the biomedical field to engineer prosthetic devices and develop technologies to further treatment for epileptic patients.
Photography by Sheila Harris
What does it mean to you to be at the top of your class? Being at the top of my class has been an achievement that I have been able to be proud of. These last four years of high school, I have been working my absolute hardest, which has led to many late nights and stressful weekends. I am grateful to be acknowledged for the time and effort that I have put in to best prepare me for my future.
What do your duties entail being Student Council President and why do you love the position? The responsibility of our Student Council President is to organize all our school's events and be the representative of our school in our community. Currently we are working on organizing our biggest event: Homecoming Week. There is a lot to do, but we have an outstanding council that is volunteering their time to make this week the best it can be. I love the position because I can meet so many new people through all of our events and I feel like I am helping to better my community.
What is your strongest leadership quality? My strongest leadership quality is my positivity. I do not like to be the person that puts others down because they are not feeling well themselves. A positive mindset provides an optimistic outlook on life. I do not feel discouraged when something doesn’t end up working out when planning something. Instead, I see it as an opportunity for something better to be put in its place. Leaders are an example to others and if the leader is optimistic, the followers are as well, and an overall better atmosphere is created.
Photography by Sheila Harris
Tell us about your soccer career. When did you get started and where are you with it now? I have been playing soccer for most of my life. I started playing recreational soccer when I was three years old. When I turned five, I began to play travel soccer and have continued until now. Our travel soccer season is in the fall with our high school season in the spring. This sport has a special place in my heart, and I couldn’t imagine not playing at all. This summer, I committed to playing collegiate soccer at Monmouth College and I am very excited for it!
What is a favorite accomplishment from soccer? My favorite accomplishment from soccer had to have been when my team and I ended up in second place in the Illinois State Cup. We spent so many hours practicing together and I loved to see that our results showed our hard work.
What else would you like to talk about? I would like to talk about the balance that I have created throughout the years of juggling athletics, academics, and helping the community. I would also like to talk about the skills that I have been able to acquire in my experiences throughout the years. I want to share how I am able to use these skills to better my community and show others how to do the same.
What are you doing now to prepare you for a future in the biomedical field? I am planning on majoring in engineering in college in order to better understand how I can apply the mechanical aspects of engineering to the biomedical field. Being able to combine both mechanical and biomedical fields together will best prepare me to make a significant contribution in the community.
What do you wish everyone knew about epilepsy? First and foremost, I want everyone to know that not all epilepsy is the same. There of course is epilepsy where the person experiences convulsions, but there are also types of epilepsy where the seizures occur when the person stares off into space, fidgets, etc. The stigma of seizures only being convulsions is false. There is not a universal treatment for epileptic people. There are many different medications that people can take to help manage their seizures, but people should also know that medication doesn’t always work. My parent takes multiple seizure medications currently, but they still have seizures.
Photography by Sheila Harris
How did you find and why did you choose Sheila Harris for your photographer? Sheila has been a family friend all of my life. I have been friends with her daughter for as long as I can remember. Sheila would always bring her camera to all of the different events that we went to growing up. Her pictures have always looked so amazing! These past few years she has really invested in her passion for photography and I am so happy for her. She truly has an eye for the perfect pictures.
What was your experience like? What did you love most about it? My experience was the best! We chose a library theme for this specific session, and I had a blast! We had a lot of good photos and Sheila had many different ideas that she wanted to try out with us. Sheila has always made taking photos quick and easy while also keeping the atmosphere lighthearted. I am going back for another photo session this October and I am so excited!
What inspiring things about you does your nomination not cover? In my nomination, I was not able to include my involvement in my school’s Foster’s Voice Suicide Awareness Club. This club is very important to me because I am a strong advocate towards mental health. A few friends and I work with Foster’s parents to inform our community that, “It’s okay not to be okay.” We are leaders of this club and work together with the Gray Matters Collective, another mental health awareness group. Our goal is to break the stigma of mental health and to create a safe space for anyone to go to if they are struggling.
If you were to present a topic to a group of your peers, what would it be? A topic that I would be able to present to a group would be about Academic Burnout. Academic Burnout is losing the motivation to do any school work and will often lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression. As we are all moving away from COVID-19, we have been thrown into many different learning environments and students are struggling with all of the adjustments. I was constantly fighting burnout these last few years and I want to prevent this situation from being repeated in others. Raising awareness is only the first step before action can be taken to help.
Look for Natalie in issue 59 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!