Morrow — a native to Farmington, New Mexico — will graduate with a BA in communications this April
Attending Brigham Young University was always Olivia Morrow’s dream. She grew up hearing stories about the school from her parents — stories about personable professors and outstanding sporting events. While hearing these stories, Morrow set an expectation for herself to attend BYU.
But after not being accepted the first time she applied, Morrow spent a year at BYU-Idaho before applying again and transferring to BYU.
“I just knew it was where I needed to be challenged academically and lifted up spiritually,” said Morrow.
Once she was admitted to BYU, Morrow faced a new dilemma: what major should she choose? While trying a variety of general classes, Morrow took the Comms 101 course and something clicked.
“Growing up, I never felt like I was passionate about anything. I went with the flow and I didn’t know what I wanted,” said Morrow. “But after taking Comms 101, I decided to try comms studies and I fell in love. To have found my passion is so fulfilling. That is one of the amazing things about the CFAC: the students are pursuing their passions.”
While working towards her degree, Morrow has performed research on several cultural topics. She wrote research papers on how people discuss mental health on Twitter, COVID-19 memes in our culture, and the emotional impact of true-crime media. The research team on mental health won the Boston University Award Top Paper award at IPRRC. Her most recent research project was selected for presentation at the Popular Culture Association Conference, an international conference.
“BYU has so many opportunities for research and I feel lucky to have been able to work on so many projects,” said Morrow. “Having a paper where I was the primary author be accepted at an international academic conference was my greatest achievement.”
While Morrow has worked as a teaching assistant for four different communications classes, the road to graduation hasn’t always been easy. “Last year I felt unsure about graduation and my future career, so I reached out to a professor. She expressed the potential she saw in me,” said Morrow. “I had never felt confident in my skills before, but she took on a mentor relationship, and we worked on some research papers together. I wouldn’t have had the confidence I have now if it hadn’t been for her taking time to build me up.”
Morrow has had countless experiences with faculty who have sacrificed their time to help her, and she has also appreciated her time working with other students. One of her favorite classes was Comms 416 Media Advocacy and Social Change, where she worked with a team of students on a social media campaign from start to finish.
“We decided to do our project on women’s health, and we created blog posts and digital content for social media. We were running this campaign at the height of a lot of social justice issues that happened last year, and we took time to educate ourselves so we could create content that matched the moment. I felt like I was able to create meaningful content that reached a lot of people. It was challenging but is still one of my favorite projects I’ve completed.”
Morrow hopes that she can take the opportunity as a student spotlight to encourage her fellow graduates to do good in the world.
“I think we have the opportunity to go out and use our degrees to be a light, not only in our areas and careers but also in the world,” said Morrow.
“BYU prepares us in such a unique way and I hope that even though the world we live in now is polarizing or seems dark or daunting or scary, we can go and use our skills for good.”
When she graduates, Morrow will be presenting her true crime research paper in June, and she hopes to attend grad school in the fall to further her communications studies.