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From Catcher to the Community in Pursuit of Health Equity

Male nurse wearing scrubs in lab
Manny Morris, here in a lighter moment in the Simulation lab, looks forward to launching his nursing career in critical care or the ED, as he also seeks to close the gap on health inequities.

As an undergraduate student at Villanova, Emmanuel Morris ’16 BS, MEd, was a four-year student-athlete on the baseball team. On top of his athletic commitments, Manny, as most people call him, majored in Comprehensive Science and minored in Spanish. He spent most game days behind the plate as a catcher working intently with the pitching staff while also maintaining his own strong offensive game. It turned out that his experience on the baseball diamond was the perfect precursor for this scholar-athlete to launch his nursing career with the second degree accelerated BSN (BSNExpress) program.

Manny thought he would pursue a career in medicine following a major knee injury (torn ACL, MCL, PCL) while playing high school football that required surgery. “My whole rehab experience, including my surgeon and PT, made me fall in love with medicine but more importantly I wanted to help others recover and overcome setbacks through healthcare,” explains Manny.

Following college graduation, the Chicago native “took a detour” and worked in college athletics as an academic advisor for student-athletes both at Villanova and Arizona State University where he earned a master’s degree in education. During this period, Manny notes, “I guided at-risk student athletes through their academic experience and helped them stay on track to graduate. While I enjoyed that experience, I still wanted to live out my original dream of having a career in medicine, so I pivoted back, and here I am now.”

Manny comes from a family of nurses who span the profession including public health, education, veteran care, emergency care and neonatal critical care. Their influence, along with his understanding of the core of nursing practice, encouraged Manny to “ultimately landed on nursing because I thought the role aligned most with what I hope to accomplish in helping people achieve wellness.”

Manny sees a fast-paced future ahead, perhaps practicing in emergency or critical care nursing after graduation either at home or in the Philadelphia area. An even bigger goal: Manny wants to close the health inequity gap for minorities especially the Black community which often experiences the worst outcomes. “I hope to achieve that through my daily interactions with patients I have or people from the community like the women in Kensington,” Manny explains. He is a research assistant with Assistant Professor Linda Maldonado, PhD, RN. Part of her Team Latina research group, he recently co-led an event for women on Valentine’s Day.

Manny sees his education background pairing nicely with his goal of contributing to health equity. “We all know education is key to doing better for oneself, so hopefully I can provide people with knowledge on how to take care of themselves and how to access the services they need to do so.”