May 27, 2014
By Chad Shepard
A few weeks ago, a letter (pictured below) arrived at the Morgan household, bearing a rather well-known return address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington D.C. When it arrived, the man to whom the letter was addressed -- former Wolverine Jordan Morgan -- was not there to receive it. Morgan has been out of town more often than not since earning his master's degree in manufacturing engineering, working toward his goal of playing professional basketball.
He has received plenty of congratulatory messages and well-wishes from Michigan fans around the world but nothing like what arrived in his parents' mailbox in mid-May. Since he wasn't home to read the letter right away, Morgan had to ask his mother to exercise some self-restraint.
"I told my mom not to open it," said Morgan, "I had her keeping it at the house for awhile."
When he finally had the time to drop by his parents' house last week to pick up a few things, the former Michigan captain read the message penned to him by the president. Once he had a moment to sit down and digest everything, the significance of the leader of the free world reaching out to one college graduate began to sink in.
"It's an honor," said Morgan, "It's humbling to be recognized like that by the president and for him to see the positive impact I can have. It just goes to show how much of an influence I can actually have in the world."
Despite visiting the Michigan campus a few times during Morgan's time as a student at U-M, Morgan had never had a personal interaction with President Obama or anything that led him to believe he would receive a personal congratulations from the president.
"I know he's a big college basketball fan," said Morgan, "So if he had a minute to watch some games, maybe at one point he watched one of ours, but I didn't expect anything like this at all."
The president didn't reach out to Morgan to talk basketball, though. The letter congratulated Morgan on his graduation and advanced degree but also pointed to the responsibility that comes with such accomplishments.
"In the years ahead, I hope you will take up the charge to improve your community, serve our country and make the world a better place for the next generation," the letter read. A tall order coming from the desk of the president, but if there is one man up to the challenge, it's Morgan.
Anyone who spends time with the U-M men's basketball program knows Morgan's up to the task. Aside from being one of three captains this season, Morgan also earned the Thad Garner Leadership Award and was one of several student-athletes to win the Rachel Townsend Award for Community Service, in addition to being one of the Michigan Daily's Student-Athletes of the Year.
On a national level, he was named as a member of the 2014 Allstate NABC Good Works Team, which recognizes college basketball's student-athletes who made a commitment to improving their community and the lives of others.
Morgan isn't sure what he will do with the letter down the road, though it's sure to be a cherished keepsake. He's given it to his mother for the time being.
"I want her to be able to have it," he said, "I know she'll probably end up taking better care of it than I would, and she'll end up doing something special with it. That's why I left it with her."
Morgan has had aspirations of using his degrees to aid Detroit's inner-city youth since his first days in Ann Arbor, so the president's message rang loud and clear, but one line from the letter stuck out to him in particular and left him feeling energized for the future.
"As part of an elite community of scholars and leaders, our Nation will look to you to contribute within and beyond your field and to expand our shared knowledge of the world," read Morgan, "That's inspiring."