Why I stayed: Allie Morse ’10

January 24, 2020

Since Brandeis opened its doors in 1948, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Brandeisians have come to complete their education. But after they graduate, Brandeis is oftentimes just a distant memory, an alma mater that they’ll donate to or attend its reunions every few years. However, there are a select few individuals that choose to either stay, or come back to Brandeis, after graduation. This new series will tell the story of Brandeis alumni who decided to stay, or come back. 

When Allie Morse ’10 MS ’17 returned to her hometown of Georgia after graduating from Brandeis, she knew it was not the place for her. “I grew up in rural Georgia and did not want to be in rural Georgia anymore,” Morse told The Brandeis Hoot in an interview. She explained that being the only Jewish person in town, “I wanted to be somewhere significantly more liberal and Brandeis couldn’t be any better.” 

Morse added that when she visited campus for the first time, she distinctly remembers seeing a student walking across the Great Lawn barefoot with a set of bongos and a kippah, and knew from that moment on that Brandeis was the school for her. 

After graduation, Morse decided to return to her home in Georgia for what she called her “second semester abroad.” 

“I never thought I would go back [to Brandeis],” Morse told The Hoot. “I was done with college and it was cheaper to be at home.” 

During this time, Morse’s dream was to be in the foreign service and to be a diplomat one day. If the foreign service did not work out, Morse planned on joining the Peace Corps—she just wanted to be abroad. 

Morse had taken the exam during her senior year at Brandeis and passed the first round of applications. She explained that the process of becoming a part of the foreign service took a full year. 

While at home, Morse received an offer to work at the alumni relations office at Brandeis and took it as an opportunity to make some money before becoming a diplomat. “The whole idea was to spend a year growing, leave at 5 p.m. and I could be free to figure out life after college.”

While waiting to advance in the foreign service application process, Morse was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after noticing a lump on her collarbone. “I was sick all four years at Brandeis,” Morse told The Hoot. “I knew something was wrong and couldn’t figure it out. Because I was a young woman, I got diagnoses like depression and all my symptoms were brushed off.”

After her diagnosis, Morse explained that her perception of herself changed completely. “When you’re young, you don’t expect to get sick,” she said. “We talk about disability, but not that much about hidden disability back then. All my friends were in graduate school and I was in chemo[therapy]. That was super challenging.” 

With her diagnosis, Morse’s dreams of becoming a diplomat were fading into the distance. She explained that individuals who battled cancer still have the opportunity to be a part of the foreign service, but it requires a certain amount of time in remission.

Being back at Brandeis and working there gave Morse a supportive group of co-workers that helped her through her treatment and recovery. One of Morse’s co-workers, who had Fridays off, drove Morse to her chemotherapy every week and sat with her instead of enjoying her long weekend. 

“Very quickly I had to pivot what my whole career was going to be. Social media was not what I thought I was going to be going into,” Morse told The Hoot. “But I applied those same skills to being a diplomat to social media.”

She currently serves as the assistant director of social media strategy for the university, but has been managing social media in various capacities in different departments for over five years.

Morse’s favorite part about Brandeis is how awesome the students are. “You don’t understand how awesome you are in the moment,” Morse told The Hoot in an interview. “Now that I’ve had the opportunity to be on the other side, outside the Brandeis bubble, it’s great to have a job where I can work with students and tell students’ stories.” 

Morse explained that she also loves to be a cheerleader for Brandeis students. “You’re really doing amazing things,” Morse said. “Even if you’re majoring in one thing, it’s above and beyond. Not that Brandeis students would want to be acknowledged as that special, it’s very exciting to be somewhere where people want to do good for good’s sake without bragging.” 

“Whether they knew what had happened to me or not, I had an extremely supportive environment,” Morse told The Hoot. “Lots of people don’t have that. Lots of people go through really tough things in life and their workplace spits them out. Brandeis really supported me and my growth.” She also explained how she could not have gotten to the position that she did without the support of the university. 

Morse is also really appreciative to still be at Brandeis because she is able to take advantage of events on campus that she was not able to when she was an undergraduate. “People should take a moment to really appreciate what you can do here,” she said. “Because in the real world, you have to pay money for that kind of stuff.” 

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