Above and beyond: WKU student balances job, undergraduate and graduate school

WKU Senior Kimber Morris, 21, from Portland, Tennessee, participates in the JUMP Program, and is currently majoring in Corporate and Organizational Communication.

Olivia Marshall

As a college student, it’s already hard enough trying to fit in schoolwork, keeping up with friends, taking care of yourself and possibly working all in 24 hours. Kimber Morris, a senior from Portland, Tennessee, is proving to the world that she can do all of that and more.

Morris is a student worker, undergraduate and graduate student at WKU. Studying organizational and corporate communications, Morris’ day is filled with classes, tutoring, working in the communication department and driving 45 minutes to and from her house to come to campus.

“Kimber is our lead student worker and has taken on work that is almost at the level of an office associate,” Helen Sterk, head of the communication department, said. “So Kimber organizes our tutors, our student workers and she organizes me.”

Morris doesn’t skip a beat when she arrives on campus at 8:10 a.m. every weekday, where she checks in with the communication department office associate or department head to see what needs to get done that day. 

“I am in charge of keeping, helping and working with all of our student workers, as well as acting in the same role as the student workers whenever needed,” Morris said. 

Abby Baker, a junior from Nashville, is one of the student workers in the department. Morris hired her to the staff after taking a class with Baker. Baker sang praises of Morris and the work she does for the department.

“I think Kimber is really innovative,” Baker said. “She has a lot of really good ideas about ways to further the department and grow our students. She’s really nice and helpful. If you mess something up, she’s willing to help you and talk it through with you.”

When she isn’t in class, Morris sticks around the office helping out however she can. 

“Sometimes we don’t have enough office workers to fill the whole day,” Morris said. “So I’ll fill in for them to take care of scheduling appointments, making posters and getting information out for the department.”

Morris also works at the Communications Success Center tutoring students who need help with writing papers in APA style or writing speeches. 

Morris’s hard work and dedication to the department haven’t gone unnoticed. While Morris works for the department in more official ways, she also serves as a role model for the students within the department. 

“I aspire to be like her when I’m a senior because she gives off the impression that she has it all figured out, which is not true for anyone,” Baker said. “She is a hard worker and makes me determined to want to work and do better for her.”

Figuring out how to balance her schedule is something Morris was proud of. She said her planner is her best friend. 

“I try to, at the beginning of each week, write a list of everything I need to get done. Sometimes I’ll put extra things I want to get done, but if they don’t get done, I’ll just push them back to the next week,” Morris said. “I even have an Excel file on my computer that has an hour by hour schedule of my day.”

Morris emphasized the importance of creating time for friends and family in her busy schedule. 

“Scheduling in time with friends and family is important to me,” Morris said. “Because I really don’t want to neglect that.” 

Challenging herself is something that Morris is used to. She said that she is known for putting a little more on her plate than she should. Morris sees multiple different benefits of being so involved with her department.

“I think it’s almost better because I get to see the department in multiple different facets, all at the same time,” Morris said. “It helps me have a better understanding of what is happening. As a worker, seeing the graduate side as well, helps me to understand what I need to do as a worker for the graduate students and how to advertise for the department.”

Being able to have a greater understanding of her department is something Morris is grateful for. She is able to connect and identify more with her department by being in these roles.

“I get to know all of our staff and faculty, and I feel like I have a really good relationship with most of them,” said Morris. “It’s awkward a little bit because I may have them in a class at that time, but it’s really cool because I feel a connection to them that I might’ve not had if I did not work with them in this way.”

One of the relationships she’s been able to develop is with Sterk. Sterk said that she got to know Morris when she took her graduate class in gender and communication. 

“She doesn’t require a lot of oversight,” Sterk said. “She takes initiative, she understands how things work and moves them along.”

Sterk knows that Morris has a bright future ahead of her.

“She has an unlimited future,” Sterk said. “There are a million things that woman can do, and I’m dying to figure out what they look like.”

Features reporter Olivia Marshall can be reached at [email protected] Follow Olivia on social media at @marshallolivia_.