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Celebrating Your Community College, Part Four

A special series presented by St. Louis Community College

For the last 60 years, St. Louis Community College has been an integral part of the place we call home. With 50% of all households in the St. Louis area having a student or alum who attended the College, there is no denying that STLCC has ties to virtually every family, business and organization in the region.

April is Community College Month, and this year’s theme is “Celebrating Your Community’s College.” This month we will highlight those on our campuses who have made the College a central part of their lives and have truly become a part of the STLCC community. Read the final installment in the four-part series below.

Morgan Makes a Lasting Difference in the Lives of Archers 

Dwayne Morgan has such a good reputation with students, they keep in touch after they graduate from St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley. 

Dwayne Morgan with student

“He was always really easy to talk to about school and even my personal life,” gushed Toni Stovall, 28, who was the 2019 vice president of the campus’ Student Government Association, journey to college student ambassador for the Missouri Department of Higher Education and recipient of the Student Leadership Award from the Missouri Community College Association.

“Even after I graduated, he was there when I needed job recommendations. He wrote me so many job recommendations,” she said chuckling.   

The maternity case manager for Good Shepherd Child and Family Services credits Morgan’s recommendation for playing a part in her being offered the position. 

“Just him knowing me personally as a student, he was able to point out my strengths and weakness,” she said. “He would say, ‘I don’t know if that job would be the right fit for you.’ Sure enough, I’d try the job for a short time and find out he was right.”

Stovall, who still affectionately calls him Mr. Morgan, said he knows his students well. 

“He knows how to share strengths and weaknesses with you without judging you,” she said. “He just wanted to help you grow.”

Although Stovall earned an associate degree in human services in 2019 from STLCC-Florissant Valley, Morgan thought she could achieve more. 

“Mr. Morgan heavily encouraged me to continue my education, so I also got a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Missouri at St. Louis in 2021,” she said.

With 25 years of experience working in higher education, Morgan didn’t develop his knack for forming relationships with students overnight. 

He worked as a retention officer in minority student programs at Southeast Missouri State University, where he administered the Peer Mentor program and the INROADS Scholars program. He was also an education outreach director for the East Central Missouri Area Health Education Center.

Coming to work at STLCC as coordinator of student orientation and transition was a natural part of his professional progression. He held that position for 14 years before he was promoted to manager of campus life in February 2022.

April L. Johnson, Ed.D., vice president of student engagement at St. Louis Community College-Meramec is impressed with Morgan. 

“The knowledge, skills and experience he brings to this position are exceptional. He is a competent communicator, an empathetic listener and the students absolutely enjoy working with him. He understands the needs of internal and external stakeholders and makes every effort to build customer satisfaction and represent the College in a positive way to his colleagues, students and the surrounding community. He displays high standards of professional behavior, is always happy to help his colleagues and is regarded as highly credible by those who work with him,” she said.

“I am blessed to have him as a member of my team.” 

Morgan wants every Archer to connect with campus life and feel welcome in the Florissant Valley family.

“College students who get involved in activities are more likely to feel a sense of belonging and have a tendency to adjust more easily to college life. Some studies indicate that being highly involved in college correlates with better academic performance and well-being,” he said. 

Once a first-generation-college student himself, Morgan, who grew up 15 minutes away from campus, gets excited about helping students accomplish their academic goals.  

“I am of the belief that the deepest learning happens when classroom learning is followed by opportunities to practice what is being taught. By getting involved in campus life, students are afforded the opportunity to practice skills and habits they are being exposed to them in the classroom. Campus life provides students the opportunity to join student-run organizations.

"By getting involved, students develop both soft and hard skills. No single curriculum can do it all. There is simply too much to learn and too few classes and courses to teach it all. Campus life is crucial to closing the gaps between what we teach in the curriculum and what students need to succeed,” he said. 

Besides developing a robust slate of campus-life activities for students to experience, Morgan served as chair of the campus’ African American Heritage Celebration committee for the past 13 years.

The event included an explosion of cultural experiences such as live-musical performances, an African dance troupe, historical reenactments presented by the Missouri History Museum, keynote speakers, and soul food.

Morgan made it his business to secure Missouri Supreme Court Justice George W. Draper III, representatives from the county prosecutor’s office and other African American leaders as keynote speakers. He wanted students to see that success in professional careers is obtainable.

“I feel that it’s extremely important for African American students to see Black men and women in leadership roles,” said Morgan, who didn’t see a professional Black man in charge of leading a large-scale organization until he attended college. 

“Dr. Jerry Westbrook served as director of career services at Southeast Missouri State University. He saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself. He inspired me to attend graduate school and put me on the path to enter the career field of higher education as a student affairs professional. Twenty-five years later, I’m still excited to come to work every day and have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of students here in my community,” he said.

Outside of work, Morgan helps care for his parents who are in their 80s. He is the proud father of Brooklyn, 19, a freshman at Tennessee State University, and Blayr, 13, a 7th-grader at Hixson Middle School. He is also a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., a historically African American fraternity.

You might spot Morgan in the park riding his bicycle to unwind or bump into the grill master in another city sampling barbeque. 

Travel is not foreign to Morgan. When he was 13 years old, he and the rest of the family became fast students of European culture when they moved because his father began to work in Munich, Germany. Morgan keeps in contact with his middle and high school classmates from abroad and credits the experience with helping him become a stronger-world citizen.

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