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Katherine Morrison - Community Health and Wellness Faculty
Dr. Katherine Morrison likes to challenge her students. She believes that as long as a mutual respect exists in the classroom, they tend to learn more by questioning her authority. Perhaps it's because she's been challenging herself all these years.
In 2008, the assistant professor of Community Health and Wellness and African-American Studies at Curry did something that only a few people on this planet can brag about. Out of 25,000 contestants, she took third place in the Toastmasters International Speaking Competition, becoming the third best public speaker in the world.
The seven minute speech, entitled "Baby Don't Believe Them", focused on her personal journey and stressed the importance of ignoring the naysayers in life. But no matter how many times she gets up on that stage, she says the fear of public speaking is always there. It's what you do with that fear that matters.
"The fear is mainly from the fact that you don't know how the audience is going to react to you," says Morrison. "I still get that twinge every time before I step on stage, but about 10 seconds into my material, I feel at peace. Once you get over that initial hurdle, preparation takes care of the rest."
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, and a former microbiologist at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Morrison took an interesting path before finding her niche at Curry.
"I have done it all. I've been a dishwasher, a telemarketer, and also worked at the Cleveland Metro Park Zoo," recalls Morrison. "I was even a professional clown for a time. I can tie a balloon animal like nobody's business!"
But it was her stint at the CDC that led her to her current profession.
"After being a microbiologist for a while, I realized that I was much too gregarious to talk to bugs all day. That's when I decided I'd rather teach about health."
And now, Morrison's classes can't fill up fast enough. Her courses have become a popular staple on campus.
"I think it's because I try to teach my students how to find the joy in life. Some of these young adults are only 18 years old and they have so many other problems to think about besides school. It's all about making them see the big picture."
Morrison is also a highly sought-after speaker and trainer on the topic of domestic violence and women's empowerment, specifically within the African-American community.
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