Work ethic defines Milford High senior

MILFORD – Some students breeze through high school and hit a brick wall when they reach college, stunned by the hard work.

That’s not likely to happen to Morgan Stephens.

The Milford High School senior is graduating June 13 after facing challenge after challenge, including the school’s most difficult courses: Advanced Placement calculus, biology and biotechnology.

She also found time to lead her soccer team, take part in several co-curricular activities, including Milford’s state champion history team, and perform community service activities – interning at Bedford Animal Rescue, tutoring at a local charter school, volunteering as a teacher’s assistant at Jacques Elementary School, coaching youth soccer and taking part in the drug-abuse prevention organization Community Action for Safe Teens.

And every weekend, she worked in her family’s restaurant, Milford’s Union Street Grill, which meant getting up at 5 a.m. It also put money into her pocket for a junior year Global Leadership trip to Costa Rica. The only teen from this part of the United States in the three­-week volunteer work program, Stephens helped build a hydroponic greenhouse and rebuild a school, working in the mornings and taking Spanish classes in the afternoons.

That was easy, though, compared to the Advanced Placement courses, but they are part of a plan.

“I wanted the best chance to get into good schools,” said Stephens, whose goal is to be a large-animal veterinarian. She is going to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, otherwise known as Virginia Tech, in September.

Probably the hardest part of high school, though, was when she couldn’t do something. She was captain of the Milford girls varsity soccer team and suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Her ACL surgery was the summer before her senior year, and she was sidelined for six months, though she was allowed to go in the game for 23 seconds on senior night, the last home game of year.

Guidance councilor Paul Christensen calls Stephens very competitive, academically and athletically, but said her focus always seems genuine, meaning she does what she does for enjoyment and not to “check off the boxes in a college application.”

She pursued the school’s most challenging courses without complaining, he said, and made it into the Top 10 of the Class of 2015.

“She is the kind of student we rely on in order to offer these rigorous courses,” he said in a phone interview, because they are taken by a very small number of students. “That kind of work ethic is not a given.”

In a scholarship application, Stephens called her dedication and passion her chief personal strength.

“Without these characteristics I would not be pursuing such a competitive and grueling career,” she wrote.

Milford High School’s Class of 2015 will graduate at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 13, on the football field, weather-permitting.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or