Dr. Kathleen Morgan’s distinguished academic and professional career has a clear focus: to improve the health of individuals, families, and communities through health promotion efforts and to reduce chronic disease.
She chairs the Family and Community Health Sciences Department, Rutgers Cooperative Extension at Rutgers University. She provides leadership to national projects related to nutrition, chronic disease prevention, and health promotion. She is also a member of many prominent societies and associations related to her field of expertise. And she has been an invaluable supporter on NJPHK since its inception–receiving a Culture of Health Award for her work.
Good health through proper nutrition has been a part of Morgan’s life since she can remember. As someone who grew up in a time when boxed food and fast food were taking over the local markets, eating healthy was a somewhat radical notion.
Equally radical was her career path. Morgan didn’t attend college right out of high school; instead, she married, had children, and applied her knowledge about proper nutrition in her kitchen. As a mom to three sons, Morgan banished sugar from the table and prepared meals that were delicious and healthy. Among her neighbors, Morgan was known as a proponent of healthy eating. It was at the encouragement of one neighbor that Morgan took her first steps toward academic credentialing.
She enrolled in Middlesex County College to acquire an associate’s degree in dietetics. One of her professors told her she could go further, and put the goal of a bachelor’s degree in Morgan’s sights. But first, she needed to pick up some high school math and language credits, which she earned in a summer session at her sons’ high school—much to their chagrin. She then enrolled at Rutgers University, where she earned her bachelor and master degrees. Next, she completed her Ph.D. from Drew University while her two oldest sons were in college.
While pursuing her educational goals, Morgan was applying her knowledge on the job, working as a worksite wellness trainer for Johnson & Johnson before joining the Family and Community and Health Sciences department at Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
Having achieved success through non-traditional routes, Morgan encourages women to find their own paths to their goals and dreams when the time is right. She counsels the importance of taking classes and other opportunities to discover more about one’s personal strengths and assets.
Morgan’s life and career can be summed up in one truth: You never know what you can achieve until you try — don’t give up.
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