MTSU Honors College student receives MTSU, Harold Love Sr. community service awards

Ella Morin’s a year away from continuing her mission to be a doctor in preventative medicine and community health.

In May 2021, Morin plans to graduate from Middle Tennessee State University and pursue a joint medical degree and master’s in public health.

For years, Morin, who is from Knoxville, Tennessee, has had a heart and compassion for her fellow man. The rising senior Honors College student, who majors in biology and Spanish with a minor in general science, has a gift for medical volunteerism and shadowing.

Her lengthy volunteer efforts have helped land Morin the Harold Love Sr. Outstanding Community Service Award. Near the end of the just-completed spring semester, Morin also received the MTSU Student Organizations and Service Community Service Award for 2019-20.

Morin joins Briana Brady of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Danielle Contreras of Belmont University, Mallory Fundoras of Austin Peay State University and Miracle Walls of Maryville College as student honorees.

The award is named for Love, the late representative who established the first awards in 1991. Love would help a constituent in need, even if it meant giving from his own pocket.

Individuals selected to receive recognition represent many aspects of community service/volunteer work, public and charitable service and leadership roles in local organizations. They serve as ambassadors for community service among the diverse Tennessee higher education communities.

“It’s a way to reconnect with the mentors and volunteers — this award is really for them,” Morin said of what the honor means to her. “… It’s cool to bring people together, to thank them and show gratitude when I can. This is very humbling.” Because of the coronavirus pandemic, she reached out by Facebook to tell them.

For the third consecutive year, an MTSU Honors College student has received the Love award, including Morin’s boyfriend, Gareth Laffely, who earned it a year ago, and Robert Owen, who captured the award in 2018 when Honors Dean John Vile was recognized as a recipient in the faculty category.

As for the most recent recognition, Morin said she “is honored to receive the MTSU Community Service Award,” which came with a commemorative vase and plaque and certificate signed by Deb Sells, vice president of Student Affairs and vice provost for Enrollment and Academic Services, and university President Sidney A. McPhee.

Morin is a longtime volunteer in Tennessee and also in Roatan, Honduras. She utilizes her Spanish and medical skills to serve as a translator for medical clinics and as a triage nurse assistant in Honduras and Murfreesboro at the Saint Thomas Health Partners-Saint Louise Oak Creek on North Highland Avenue.

“It is an honor to work with the community while training,” Morin said. “It keeps me going and reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

She acknowledged Peggy Stranges, owner of the low-income medical clinic in Honduras, and those associated with the Saint Louise clinic, who provide the $20 co-pays for people without insurance and drive from as far away as Kentucky for medical care.

In the summer of 2018, Morin completed a volunteer internship with Drs. Stacy Zuniga and Susana Goleas at the Loma de Luz Hospital in Balfate Colon, Honduras.

Morin had a “game-changing experience” as a translator for Dr. Stephen Mills, an obstetrician and gynecologist, on-call at night at a hospital in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

Morin’s father, Travis Morin, has been a full-time pastor of a nondenominational church in Roatan for eight years. Her mother, Tish, is a family and marriage counselor. Grandfather Raoul Morin is a doctor who lived in Honduras for three months and plans to return after being in the U.S. for a short time.

At MTSU, Morin is an Honors College Ambassador and managing editor for the Scientia et Humanitas, a peer-reviewed research journal. She conducts research in cellular and molecular biology.

She is a certified nurse assistant and holds Red Cross automated external defibrillator/CPR and Professional Association of Diving Instructors Rescue Scuba Diver certifications.

“Ella is very deserving of these honors,” Vile said. “She’s a tremendous representative for MTSU and the Honors College.”

Morin played piano at Beechgrove Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which is pastored by Vile, when the congregation previously met for Sunday morning services.

To learn more about the Honors College, call 615-898-2152.

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