ANNAPOLIS – When you hear about the accomplishments of Ellicott City’s Amy Morrison, it usually isn’t from her.
Morrison, 20, who will graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1996, prefers keeping quiet about her successes.
After being selected this semester’s brigade sergeant major, the highest leadership position a midshipman can hold in his or her junior year, she simply said she was excited and surprised.
In January, she began serving as the communications liaison between the Academy’s approximately 3,100 underclassmen and the student leadership staff. A new person is chosen each semester.
Morrison describes her duty as “keeping the staff updated on how [the underclassmen] feel.”
She might sound the alarm on a heating or water problem in Bancroft Hall, the Academy’s massive dormitory, or communicate concern about the meal plan or mandatory attendance at a basketball game.
The position requires both analytical thinking and sensitivity, those familiar with the duties say.
Reuben Brigety, a brigade sergeant major last year, sat on the board that chose Morrison. “She was very articulate and had thought about the problems midshipmen face,” Brigety says.
Lt. Barry Davis led Morrison on a training cruise in 1993. And although space on the three-week sailing trip from Annapolis to Nova Scotia and back was tight – 10 people had to share five beds – he says Morrison remained enthusiastic and upbeat.
“She single-handedly kept morale high on the entire cruise,” Davis says. “I was very impressed by her strong work ethic. She showed unlimited energy and drive.”
According to her mother, Annette, Morrison has always been that way.
“She’s always taken charge,” Annette Morrison says. “She’s been a perfectionist. She’s always liked to give a lot of attention to detail. She always got a lot of things accomplished in brief periods of time. If you wanted to do it, give it to Amy.”
Morrison is also an accomplished athlete. She helped her Centennial High School soccer team win the state championship her senior year, but now concentrates on running and lacrosse. At Navy, she has completed the Marine Corps Marathon twice and formed a women’s lacrosse club.
“Amy’s a student of the game,” says Ann Wallace, Morrison’s lacrosse coach. “She always wants to learn more and improve…. The kids all look up to her.”
Morrison was the Most Valuable Player in 1993 and leading scorer last year. She also serves as the team’s treasurer, since club sports are not financed by the Academy.
“Donations are always accepted,” she says with a chuckle.
Morrison, a political science major who aspires to graduate school and ultimately work in Naval intelligence, is also a member of the Protestant Midshipman’s Club and the Midshipman Action Group, which does various community activities.
Her immaculate uniform includes two shiny superintendent’s stars, awarded for superior academic and military achievement.
Morrison’s favorite class so far has been constitutional law, where she and her classmates tried a case that was on an actual court docket.
“I got to be a judge,” she recalls, beaming. “We had a trial and then we got to go to the court and see it in real life.”
Annette Morrison is happy her daughter is at Navy. Back when the decision was made, she says, Morrison had many scholarship offers to other colleges and was weighing everything.
They made a pact to put all college material away for three weeks. Then the decision would be made.
“She got home from work one night,” Annette Morrison recalls, “and she came into my room and from behind her back she pulled out a yellow long-stemmed rose with a blue ribbon wrapped around it and handed it to me.
“And that’s how she told me that’s where she was going.”
She doesn’t have to point out that Navy’s colors are blue and gold.
Morrison says she loves the Academy because it is rich with people resources.
“Military professors give us the military angle,” she says. “Civilian [professors] have their Ph.D.s and are always willing to help. Due to the environment, your classmates are always willing to help. I like discipline, too.”
Her brigade sergeant major duties increased the number of meetings, proposals and people in her already overfilled schedule, but she says, “You have to learn that some things are going to have to give, and accept that.”
If graduation were today, her proudest memory wouldn’t be that she was named Regimental Plebe of the Year in 1993. It wouldn’t be a position held, nor an award won. It wouldn’t even be something she did by herself.
Her proudest memory would “probably be beating Army in lacrosse,” she says, stretching her 5-foot-5-inch frame as tall as possible. Morrison’s motto is a quote from Herman Melville: “What I’ve dared, I’ve willed; what I’ve willed, I’ll do.” -30-