Morgan McCoy desk

A photo of Morgan McCoy hangs above the desk in Room 200 of Brown Hall where she used to work. McCoy died about three years ago after suffering severe injuries after drunk driver Alex Catterson crashed his black pickup truck into The Palms bar. 


Stepping foot into Room 200 of Brown Hall, one may notice the bright gray colored walls and artsy photos depicting Northwest’s campus hanging on them. Approaching the first dark brown wooden desk outside the office, a large black and gold frame hangs high on the wall, holding a senior picture of Morgan McCoy with angel wings edited onto her. 

Workers inside the School of Education’s Office of Field Experience hung the photo above the desk in memory of where their beloved former student teaching assistant once sat — always with one foot propped up on the seat of the black swivel chair, her leg pressed up against her small body.

Morgan McCoy was, as many would describe, a bright and bubbly person whose life left a lasting impact on those at Northwest and others from around the Midwest. In the early hours of a frigid January 2018 day, the 19-year-old died after suffering severe injuries from a black pickup truck that crashed into a Maryville bar.

A year following the tragedy, Morgan McCoy’s mother, Brenda McCoy, decided to put memorial funds toward a scholarship at the University honoring her daughter. 

The Morgan McCoy Memorial Scholarship grants $750 per semester to an elementary education or early childhood education student who maintains an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher, has financial needs and is enrolled full time. A preference is made to students majoring in early childhood education and who qualify and participate in a campus work study.

In order to be considered for the Morgan McCoy Memorial Scholarship, a student must fill out the Standard Scholarship Application and fit these requirements. The scholarship is applied for an entire academic year but can be reapplied if the student is reselected through the scholarship application.

Brenda McCoy said the idea for the scholarship sprouted from knowing Morgan McCoy’s dedication to elementary education and her love for the Bearcats. Brenda McCoy said she wanted to create a scholarship for students who hold the same passions as Morgan McCoy once had.

“I wanted someone else to, you know, be able to do what they wanted to do, like Morgan did,” Brenda McCoy said through a shaky voice. “She wanted to be a teacher; she wanted to work with the little people, and the couple of scholarships she received really helped us a lot.”

Although the scholarship wasn’t officially launched until 2021, early childhood education major Sarah Wilson was awarded the Morgan McCoy Memorial Scholarship in fall 2020. Wilson, who is student teaching kindergarten at Renner Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri, worked as an administrative specialist in the Office of Field Experience — the same location Morgan McCoy once held a position for work study.

Cathy Barr, assistant coordinator of field experience, worked closely with Morgan McCoy in the office. Barr’s face lit up as she spoke of the fun-filled memories with Morgan McCoy. She remembers Morgan McCoy walking through the doorway to the office each day cheerfully greeting everyone with a big “hello” as her arms swung up in the air.

On Barr’s window sill, she keeps a photo framed of her with Wilson, one of Morgan McCoy and another of the former assistant coordinator, Joyce Luke. Luke was the assistant coordinator during the time Morgan McCoy worked in the office. She died of cancer Nov. 11, 2018 — the same year Morgan McCoy had died.

Barr said she keeps Morgan McCoy’s memory alive by talking about her with new employees.

Brenda McCoy said since her daughter’s passing in 2018, she has made many trips from Liberty, Missouri, to visit those working in the Office of Field Experience in Brown Hall.

Wilson recalls first meeting Brenda McCoy in the office around the time when Luke had died. 

While Brenda McCoy handed out T-shirts in the office that were dedicated to her daughter’s fundraiser, Wilson said Brenda McCoy had informed her about the memorial scholarship and encouraged her to apply.

Wilson followed through with Brenda McCoy’s advice and applied for the scholarship. She said she had to take out loans every semester and receiving this scholarship has helped her continue her education at Northwest.

Wilson remembered back to when she was declared as the scholarship recipient.

“I was very grateful and excited,” Wilson said. “Not only has it been helpful financially, but it’s a part of Morgan’s legacy. She had such an impact on so many people’s lives on and off campus and I think it is amazing she can be honored and remembered through this scholarship.”

The scholarship money is drawn from an account holding proceeds from Morgan McCoy’s funeral, the memorial service and from fundraisers like T-shirt and wristband sales. The total of the scholarship fund made out to be around $9,400.

Brenda McCoy said she would typically have a formal dinner to meet the scholarship recipient, but due to concerns of COVID-19, she and Wilson meet through written letters.

During Morgan McCoy’s time at Northwest, she was also an active member of the sorority, Sigma Kappa, where she made many friends.

Brenda McCoy remembers the handful of times she would receive Snapchats from her daughter and her friends that were taken around campus. From Snapchats of Morgan McCoy covered in textbooks and slumped back on a couch from spending long tiring hours studying for finals, to Snapchats of Morgan McCoy and her frequent combination of grilled cheese and Mountain Dew at the J. W. Jones Student Union.

“I just crack up ‘cause I’m like, ‘That is so her,’” Brenda McCoy said.

The Morgan McCoy Memorial Scholarship is only a small remnant of the imprint she leaves behind in the Northwest community.

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