Dec. 11, 2006
Ask average Americans what is important for a college student to do to prepare for life after school, and many of the responses would probably focus on job skills, networking, specific knowledge and socialization. For Rice sophomore track and cross country runner Brad Morris, though, it all boils down to helping others.
Morris chose Rice for several reasons. "I thought it was a beautiful school," the Georgia native said. "Its location was prime for helping with my asthma since it isn't aggravated here like it is in other places. I also saw it as an adventure and a challenge, being so far away from my home and comfort zone, doing something different."
Asthma played a major part in Morris' high school athletics experience. As one of the top-ranked cross country and track distance runners in the state for Peachtree City's Starr's Mill High School, Morris battled the debilitating effects of the condition during his junior year. Diagnosis and treatment followed, allowing him to compete as a senior, and the experience pushed Morris to look at chemistry as a field of study.
"I have a lot of different interests," Morris said. "I enjoy the visualization that goes with chemistry, and the many applications of the knowledge. I want to learn more about what causes asthma, what environmental factors play a role, and what I can do to make things better for people who have similar problems."
His Christian faith is central to Morris' life. Away from the track and the classroom, he has worked with mission groups in several settings, most recently as a resident volunteer over the summer at the Baptist Mission Center north of downtown Houston. "I love children, and find I am good at working with them," Morris said. "It opened a lot of our eyes when we visited people in their homes and saw how they coped with living conditions much worse than any we experienced. That was a lesson in living each day as it comes and it was very rewarding to be able to lend a helping hand."
Morris, along with former Rice teammate Marcel Hewamudalige, also spent last spring break in New Orleans helping to clear houses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. "Even among all the destruction, you knew you were doing something to help other people," Morris said.
As a volunteer for His Grace Foundation at the Children's Hospital of Houston, Morris has worked with seriously-ill kids, serving breakfast and spending time talking with patients. "It helped me know it's not all about me," Morris said. "It is so much more fulfilling helping others than doing things for yourself.
"If I just use my energies to build up stuff, all that stuff just goes away. Rice has helped me learn that every day is special, and I want to focus on doing everything in a way that is pleasing to God."
He is Rice sophomore Brad Morris, and he is one of Tomorrow's Leaders.