Conversations with Renaissance Students
Charlie Morgan CAS '08
Charlie Morgan stood 10,000 feet above the sea, watching his frozen breath escape into the thin air, and had a troubling thought: "I definitely didn't pack enough warm clothes." That was just one of many lessons he learned in Oaxaca, Mexico, where he spent last summer working with a village physician to reintroduce the native amaranth plant--wiped out by conquistadors--into the local diet.
The opportunity for experiences like this was one of the deciding factors that attracted Charlie to Lewis & Clark three years ago. High school exchange programs to Germany and Ecuador had left him hungry for more exposure to the world, and the College satisfied that hunger from the moment he moved into Akin, the multicultural residence hall. "I knew that I was going to major in the sciences, but it was Lewis & Clark's reputation as an outstanding school with a strong international flavor that attracted me to this campus," says Charlie. "I fell in love with the community of international students here."
Charlie's major is chemistry. "What I love about it," he explains, "is that it makes me look at the world in new ways, similar to the way that living abroad does." This summer, he will spend much of his time focusing on the world up close. He was selected from among numerous candidates to work in a biochemistry laboratory at Oregon Health & Science University, where he will be researching an important protein that's over-expressed in cancer.
Charlie starts most days on the Willamette River with the Lewis & Clark crew team. "I'm probably one of very few college students who see the sunrise every morning," he says. The team rows hard for two hours, starting so early that the only visible scenery is the stars reflected in the water. Charlie can't think of a better way to start his day. "Even if I have a quantum mechanics test later on," he says, "I know that the hardest part of my day is already done."
At the end of the day, he relaxes with music. He plays bassoon and contrabassoon in the Lewis & Clark Wind Symphony. "Right now I'm taking three chemistry classes and a cross-cultural psychology class," he says. "It's kind of overwhelming, so I really look forward to the evenings when I get to play music."
Charlie hopes, some day, to blend his interests in international humanitarian work, chemistry and research. "Turning on the tap and being able to drink water from a faucet is something very foreign to most of the world," he says. "I want to be able to use my research experience, and hopefully a graduate degree in chemistry, to find ways to supply clean drinking water, or to clean up the environment, or to help developing communities in some other meaningful way."
Back to Summer 2007 Chronicle