LBJ School commencement student speaker leading the way in public health policy

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May 9, 2024
LBJ School student speaker Morgan Brown posing with flowers in the background.

The Movers & Change-Makers series highlights some of the upcoming graduates of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs who are set to make an impact in both their policy areas and communities. These leaders exemplify The University of Texas at Austin's core values of learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility, gaining the Know-how to change the world through their studies at the LBJ School.  

Morgan Brown wearing an LBJ School sweatshirt with a hookem hand sign.

Morgan Brown, hailing from San Antonio, Texas, is a soon-to-be Master of Public Affairs graduate and the elected student speaker of the LBJ School Class of 2024. Selected by her peers to deliver a commencement address on May 11th, Brown expresses profound honor in the recognition. "My speech is not just for me," she explains, "but to amplify the voices and experiences of all the students who have shared this collective journey." 

“I hope my peers leave the LBJ School with a wealth of knowledge, commitment to advancing the common good and immense gratitude to faculty, staff and peers for contributing their success while here.” 

Brown's passion for health and social policy stems from formative experiences during her undergraduate tenure at Texas A&M University, where internships and volunteer work with health organizations, alongside international study, exposed her to systemic disparities and underserved communities. Inspired to champion these populations, Brown's journey led her to work with nonprofits in Austin and healthcare entities like Blue Cross Blue Shield, driving interventions for improved outcomes. 

Student speaker Morgan Brown in a pink dress by the LBJ School

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown's involvement with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the COVID-19 Community Response and Equity Coalition underscored the critical nexus of education, community engagement and governmental influence. Building on her Bachelor of Public Health degree, her pursuit of advocacy led her to the LBJ School, where she developed skills to help in her goal to bridge the gap between governance and the communities they serve. Recognized with the Elspeth D. Rostow Memorial Graduate Fellowship for her commitment to public service, Brown embodies excellence in leadership and advocacy. 

Brown shared that she has been fortunate to have many mentors, professors and peers who inspired her during her time at the LBJ School. She credits Barbara Jordan and her relentless pursuit of excellence in politics as inspiration for her own professional endeavors. This inspiration led her to become a co-chair of the Barbara Jordan National Forum, an annual student-led event that celebrates the life and legacy of Barbara Jordan. Brown's work on the forum has influenced her passion for advocating for underrepresented voices and creating a better future for all. 

Morgan Brown speaking in 2023 as one of the student chairs of the Barbara Jordan National Forum.
Morgan Brown speaking at the 2023 Barbara Jordan National Forum as one of the student chairs.

“As a Barbara Jordan co-chair, I was fortunate to meet many leaders like former Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and former Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Norma Cantu. I was able to learn about their experiences as minority women in prestigious fields and their overall impact on communities,” said Brown. “The biggest lesson I learned was adaptability; I had to be able to respond to things quickly, be comfortable with plans changing and be open to new ideas, which was critical for our success.” 

Eddie Bernice Johnson meeting with Morgan Brown at the 2023 Barbara Jordan National Forum.
Former congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson sitting alongside Morgan Brown ahead of the 2023 Barbara Jordan National Forum.

When asked about specific courses that stood out to her, Brown said that all of the courses she took at the LBJ School were impactful for various reasons. Particularly, her advanced public management and methods courses with Dr. Abner and Dr. Bixler emphasized the importance of data in policy. “Using various software like Tableau and R Studio became enjoyable for someone who initially shied away from software, and I attribute it to the pleasurable learning environment these professors fostered,” shared Brown. Aside from data skills, she developed a strong desire to become more "curious" about the world around her, and the safe spaces they created in the classroom empowered her to share her experiences, expertise and insight about topics that were important to her. 

After graduation, Brown will return to her public health roots as a Health Equity Specialist for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Her long-term career goal is to help create and implement policies that reduce disparities in areas that contribute to poor health outcomes and improve healthcare delivery systems. 

For more information on the Master of Public Affairs, visit our degree programs page.

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