A complex and mostly undiscovered organ, our brain has two sides. The left is logical, verbal and processes in analytical and sequential ways, looking first at the pieces and then putting them together to get the whole. The right side processes information in an intuitive, simultaneous way. It is creative, colorful and sees the big picture. While both sides work together in our everyday lives, we usually have a natural tendency toward one way of thinking: the dominant side or the side that makes up for a huge part of our personalities and talents.
For one chemical engineering student, it’s difficult to know which the dominant side is for she has no difficulty shifting between the two. One moment she is talking about polymers and processes, the next she is giving a poetry reading. Summing it up, Jasmine Danielle Morris (ChE’14) is a spectacular confluence of left brain and right brain.
A senior with a five-year plan, Morris is a chemical engineering student, part of the Haraka Writers (a poetry group committed to literary expression of the Black experience) and works part-time in Purdue’s Telefund to help raise money for scholarships – a topic near and dear to her.
When trying to decide what college was right for her, Morris looked at several but it was ultimately Purdue that offered the most comprehensive scholarship package, the fullest opportunity for involvement and the best in academics for her engineering objectives. “I just knew Purdue was the right place for me,” she states.
The catalyst for her dream to become an engineer was Project Lead the Way, a program to introduce engineering to middle and high school students. “Project Lead the Way offers a variety of engineering courses, which I started taking in middle school, so I’ve known since the 7th grade that I wanted to be an engineer,” she chuckles. “I’ve had all those years of taking different types of engineering. Because of Purdue’s reputation in engineering and everything else it had to offer, I knew I had to come here.”
Scholarships helped pay for her education but still needing to cover the daily expenses, she began looking for a job. “A friend of mine who had worked in Telefund for a long time told me about an open position. The hours worked for me and I’ve been hooked on calling for Telefund since I got my first pledge,” she explains proudly. Speaking to potential donors on behalf of Purdue allows her to call on all sections of her brain. “I love talking to people so I get my social fix but I’m also calling on behalf of the Black Cultural Center (BCC) and chemical engineering so I need to be able to respond to questions and provide a lot of important information. Ultimately, talking about the impact of each gift is where I land in most conversations and I can speak to that on a very personal level.”
Morris is a juggernaut of enthusiasm and with an unprecedented 34 percent pledge rate for calling people who have never given to Purdue, exhibits a sagacious grasp of the impact of philanthropy. She states, “I’ve had the opportunity to reach out to people, especially minorities who were at Purdue before the BCC was here, and tell them about all the new BCC and the wonderful things we’re doing here. Hearing their stories has been deeply touching for me and has made me feel extraordinarily proud and privileged to be a Boilermaker.”
In its own right, being an engineering student keeps her plate full. Add the Haraka writers and her work at Purdue Telefund, and there are few hours left in the week. But that doesn’t seem to bother Morris. She’s enjoying every opportunity, and believes each and every experience at Purdue has allowed her to develop the best of herself, including both sides of her brain.