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Danae Morrison looking forward to academic challenges at university

High school was essentially a “breeze” for Aquinas College (AC) graduate Danae Morrison. She completed high school with a 3.97 cumulative grade point average (GPA). She sat eight Bahamas General Certificates of Secondary Education (BGCSE) examinations in 11th grade and received all A grades in English, math, religion, history, physics, chemistry, biology and combined science. In early June she sat three Advanced Placement (AP) exams – history, calculus and English. She’s confident she did well.

With high school behind her, she’s looking forward to university in an effort to challenge herself academically.

“I’m blessed with a talented mind, so I don’t have to work too much, which is why I’m excited to get to college where I can be challenged, and actually put in a lot of effort, compared to what I’ve been doing here,” says the valedictorian of the Aces Class of 2020.

She’s one of those people who can essentially look at something and it sticks with them.

“As long as I get that understanding of it one time, I’m able to, for the most part, keep it,” says Morrison.

She actually could not miss being a “brainbox”. She’s the daughter of dad Dannavan Morrison, who teaches computer, math and science; and mom Elizabeth, who teaches social studies (history and geography) as well as AP history. She also took AP history with her mom in her senior year.

“I could not run away from that,” she says of having to be taught by her mom.

Morrison will pursue tertiary studies at Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada, in the fall. As she puts it, from here on out, she will pursue everything she wants to do, and that means music, languages (Spanish and Japanese) and computer science.

She plans to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, with a view to pursue cybersecurity as a career choice.

But she’s beginning her university freshman year unlike anything she ever envisioned. She will be staying at home and pursuing studies online for her first semester as the world grapples with containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlike some of her peers, she does not mind having to stay at home.

“I didn’t expect it – but at the same time I wasn’t necessarily disappointed because I’ve always been one to go with whatever is thrown my way, and so it was just a slight adjustment. I’m just grateful for the chance to still be able to get an education, so I’m more than happy to be able to stay home to do the courses,” says Morrison.

Mount Allison University’s website says it plans to offer many courses online for fall 2020 and the 2020-21 academic year that will utilize both online delivery combined with some on-campus activities (such as labs or studio work). It also says residences will be open.

On March 19, the province of New Brunswick declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That state of emergency remains in effect.

New Brunswick has 165 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 159 recovered cases, two deaths and four active cases, with 43,162 tests completed as of Tuesday, June 30.

According to the Bahamas Ministry of Health COVID-19 Dashboard, there have been 16,151,790 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide and 646,996 deaths up to yesterday.

Having to do her first semester university courses online won’t be new to Morrison, who was one of thousands of students from pre-school through university around The Bahamas to see in-person, face-to-face learning in The Bahamas shuttered after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in The Bahamas on March 15. Education moved to the online platform, where it remained for the remainder of the academic year.

The Bahamas has 342 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths, 91 recovered cases, 10 hospitalized cases, 238 active cases and 3,966 tests completed as of yesterday.

The Aces graduate says moving to the online platform for her final high school semester has prepared her for her first semester online at university. In the same token, she says, it wasn’t difficult for her to make the adjustment from in-person learning to online education.

“I don’t believe I had any difficulties [adjusting]. I would almost say that I’ve always believed I was more suited for a schedule that wasn’t too strict that had me waking up [daily] to go to school at a set time, so I think I grabbed the chance to do classes this way at home,” says the daughter of educators.

“Sometimes being at school is a draining factor, but being able to go at my own pace sometimes here at home…I’m a little more motivated,” she told The Nassau Guardian.

And she says there’s nothing she disliked about online learning per se.

“I know it (online learning) was a thing that we were not used to, but beyond just being new, there wasn’t anything that I disliked. I sort of actually preferred the online [learning] to in-person [learning].”

Morrison, a middle child, describes herself as more of an introvert as opposed to an extrovert, which is why she found online learning perfect for her.

Her mother says her daughter actually liked staying home.

“I sort of slip between being introverted and extroverted. It depends on the setting…I guess. I can be pretty out there – other times it’s all about self,” says Morrison.

The valedictorian, who matriculated at AC from seventh through 12th grades, says she’s ready for the next chapter in her life. In her address to her fellow graduates during their virtual commencement, she told them that even though they may have missed out on all the pomp and circumstance that comes with the final year of high school – senior day away, prom, graduation parties and a traditional high school graduation – that she chooses to be happy, not sad. She encouraged her peers to also be happy.

Morrison, who describes herself as “unique” and a “different character”, says she likes doing things that are different from others. She says she has a passion and knows what she wants to do in life. She knows she wants to go to Japan, and is paving the way to make that happen by studying Japanese. She’s been teaching herself the language for some time at home and says she will be grateful to be able to get a formal education in the language at university. She’s even making plans for a study abroad in Japan. She says the plan could evolve to living in Japan, which she wouldn’t mind at all.

Her attraction to things Japanese stems from growing up watching anime.

“Watching anime really did attract me to [Japan], because you see so much of the culture portrayed through different things depending on what you watch, and I just fell in love with everything Japan basically. And since I like anime, I love listening to Japanese music”.

She also has an artistic side that she fully engages and loves music (she plays guitar, clarinet and piano) and theater. She plays in a wood instruments group at Grace Community Church – she’s on clarinet. The group performs at church, homes for the elderly and the Ranfurly Home. She also plays piano for the youth band at her church on Youth Sundays. She loves voice acting and has done small voice acting projects. She’s done voice-over for a game, but she says it’s not one many people would be familiar with as it’s not popular.

She believes she gets her love of the arts from her mother.

“I definitely say my music and theater side, I got that from my mother. With my father, music isn’t his thing. I don’t think I could find [art] in my father even if I tried to.”

But she admits she’s a “beautiful mix” of both her parents.

And just in case you think Morrison did not engage in nearly enough extracurricular activities – you have another thing coming. In high school, she was also involved in UNESCO-Eco, debate, the Governor General’s Youth Award (GGYA), marching band, pop band (where she switched between electric guitar and bass), soccer, softball, volleyball and Pioneer’s Club (an engineering-based club where she held the vice president’s post).

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