Natchez High student wins DAR title

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 27, 2011

NATCHEZ — Surviving a geeky stage in middle school helped Pearl Morgan become one of the most popular students at Natchez High School.

Morgan is not well known on campus because of a too cool, Miss Perfect attitude like girls in movies.

Instead, everyone knows and likes Morgan because of her contagious positive attitude and unfailing friendliness.

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The senior class nominated Morgan as Natchez High’s candidate for a scholarship with the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizens program and scholarship contest. Her peers picked her out of four other students, all whom were nominated by a teacher.

As a local chapter winner, Morgan will now compete regionally and nationally for scholarship money.

The school’s DAR Good Citizen is required to embody dependability, service, leadership and patriotism.

Morgan said she doesn’t just know every one of her approximately 250 senior classmates. She has probably had a conversation with every student at the high school at some point, she said.

“You never know how much a smile or a compliment can really change someone’s day,” Morgan said.

Morgan said a friendly remark or cheerful grin might be the trigger that allows a student going through a hard time to ignore the negativity bogging them down and help them concentrate in class.

She has gained the reputation of a leader and a good listener and has become a sounding board for many girls at school.

Morgan said she wants to be someone on whom others can depend.

“That way you can never say ‘I had no one,’ because Pearl is always there,” Morgan said.

She said many younger girls in school send her messages on Facebook asking her for advice or telling her she is their role model.

“I think they see how I carry myself and want to know how I do it, how I stay positive all the time,” Morgan said.

She said coaching girls through their self-esteem issues is rewarding to her, especially since she once struggled with self-confidence herself.

Morgan said she was picked on in seventh and eighth grade for being tall, skinny and wearing glasses.

When she came home crying, her mother told her to ignore the teasing.

“So I did (ignore it); and it worked,” Morgan said.

She started a group last May called LISTEN, which stands for Ladies In Search To Excel Nobly, Morgan said.

The organization consists of high school girls in every grade, some who Morgan said she asked to join because she thought they were having a hard time, either at school or at home.

Every two or three weeks, the girls meet at Morgan’s house or a restaurant — often 50-cent wing night at Pizza Hut’s Wing Street — to eat, talk, laugh, cry, study and ultimately gain self-confidence and make a friend.

“I just let them know they can’t let anybody tell them what they can’t do,” Morgan said.

Many people tell Morgan they think of her as an older sister.

“They add me as a sister on Facebook,” Morgan said.

She said she has approximately 10 “sisters,” on Facebook right now.

Morgan said being a role model to others is a burden she likes.

“It keeps me on track,” Morgan said.

At age 17, Morgan works after school doing office work at the Anthony Heidelberg Law Office.

She loves the experience of seeing how a business is run since she wants a career in public relations after majoring in marketing at Tougaloo Collge, Morgan said.

Someday she wants to expand LISTEN into an official nonprofit organization, she said.

Since she has passed all of her state tests, all Morgan has left to do is graduate and tackle the real world with a smile.

Staying humble and peaceful as well as self-confident is Morgan’s key to success, she said.

Collecting cans for the Stewpot and visiting residents at the nursing home where her grandmother recently moved helps her stay humble.

“I will say that I cam truly happy at the age of 17, and I don’t think many girls can say that,” Morgan said.

“Whatever challenges come after college, I’ll be ready.”

Morgan is the daughter of Johnny and Gwen Morgan.