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Chicken confirms career choice — West Lincoln student plans medical future

Morgan Newman knew for sure medicine was her calling when she swabbed a chicken for bird flu.

It was over the summer and the 17-year-old was one of 14 high school students statewide accepted into the Rural Medical and Science Scholars Program at Mississippi State University.

As part of the four-week program, Newman tested the fowl for avian influenza and even sutured a pig’s foot.

“That was pretty cool,” said Newman, a senior at West Lincoln High School.

State’s program focuses on “growing local docs, but offers additional experiences to help broaden a knowledge base in STEM careers as well as opportunities in the healthcare field,” said her mother, Jennifer Newman of Brookhaven. “The program’s vision is to help ensure a strong and passionate workforce for the long-term goals of improving access to healthcare and improving Mississippi’s science-based economy.”

While there, Newman took two pre-med courses — individual and family nutrition and Biology 1.

In the afternoons, she shadowed physicians to see first-hand what various specialties are like in the field. Newman shadowed an internist, an opthomologist and a pediatric cardiologist.

Students were also given a tour of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where Newman intubated a medical mannequin.

Growing up in Lincoln County, Newman had her sights set on veterinary medicine early. She attended three summer camps, including one at Auburn University in Alabama and another at Purdue University in Indiana.

Then, about a year and a half ago, she shifted her interest to people medicine.

Her mother organizes a monthly community health advocacy fair for their church, Johnson United Methodist in Summit, and Newman helps her out sometimes by going over diet and exercise information with senior citizens.

“I found I really like talking about diseases and vaccines,” she said.

She got a microscope for Christmas and her mother, an industrial hygienist at the Veterans Administration in Jackson, gave her a box of slides.

Her plan now is to take premed classes at Mississippi College then med school at Ole Miss to study infectious diseases.

“I want to improve the quality of life for people suffering from these diseases or maybe even find a cure for some of them,” she said.

Newman just wrapped up softball where she’s been covering center field for the Lady Bears and she’s gearing up for soccer. She’s also in the Beta Club, Student Council and FFA and she’s on the academic team.

The daughter of Jennifer and Jamie Newman, she has two younger siblings, Maggie, 16, and Matt, 12, and two dogs, Jingle and Oscar.