Shannon M. Morse has many roles SLU Law, but her main focus is to help ignite a passion for social justice among young attorneys. She teaches a course called “Leadership and Education Based Advocacy: Youth In Government,” in which law school students help St. Louis high school students in develop their mock trial skills.
What are some of your proudest career accomplishments? First, I would say being hired at Legal Services to represent homeless people in St. Louis. This was the culmination of everything that I worked for throughout my life, I was able to take my passion for social justice and turn it into a career that truly made a difference in other people’s lives.
Second, being selected to serve as an assistant dean at SLU LAW. In this position I get to help cultivate students’ passion for social justice. It is a privilege to work hand-in-hand with students to put on programming, events, and volunteer projects, and to shape the next class of attorneys from SLU LAW.
Lastly, I am really honored to have been chosen for The Kathy W. Humphrey Award for Diversity, which recognizes individuals who have made great efforts to promote diversity at Saint Louis University. This was a great accomplishment to me, not because it was an award, but because it was selected by students. It really touched my heart that the students saw me as an individual that honors diversity, because it is one of the things I value the most about my job.
What inspired you to get involved in the justice system? From a very young age, I have been inspired by all of the women role models in my life to focus my career on public service, which to me means working towards social justice. The justice system is one of the most powerful tools in our society to obtain social justice, and the women I have encountered throughout my life, from my mother, to my supervisors, to my colleagues, have all showed me what it means to live your life for others in this pursuit. Serving others is a part of who I am, and I could not imagine a career doing anything else.
What has been your favorite part of the job? Students! Helping students is at the center of my career. It is really a privilege to get to work with all of the students and to help cultivate their passions and leadership capabilities. Every day presents a new challenge or triumph, but the thing that remains constant about working in higher education is that you will always have a new group of students to inspire you and motivate you to do better for them and for the legal community. Being able to form meaningful relationships with all types of students from various backgrounds, and to help them along their journey through law school, is extremely rewarding.
What is something that would surprise people about you? I pretty much “wear my heart on my sleeve,” so there is not a lot that people do not know about me, but people may find it surprising that I was born in Saudi Arabia and since then I have visited over 25 countries all over the world, but I have never been to Canada (and I really want to go!).
What is the best advice you’ve ever given or received? The Golden Rule is the best advice there is: Treat others how you would like to be treated. We really did learn everything we need to know in kindergarten. No matter what a person believes in, where a person comes from, what a person looks like, or how a person grows up, we all deserve love and respect. If all people lived by this rule, the world would be a better place.
When you were growing up, what did you want to be? I loved the ocean, and my mother and grandmother were constantly talking politics, so when I was very young, I wanted to be a marine biologist and a U.S. senator. I learned quickly that both are very different jobs than what a grade-school-aged kid thinks. Although I still think I could be happy doing both of those careers, I have found a very happy home in legal higher education.