On some days, the warm sun shines down intensely, kissing his skin. On other days, the cold pierces right through him, the harsh wind scraping roughly against his nimble limbs. His heart does not race because he is nervous. In fact, he is perfectly calm and comfortable, regardless of the weather. Marvin has learned to trust the process.
Ranked number one in New Jersey and number 12 in the nation for the 55m run, track star Marvin Morgan (C '21) has been setting records since he began his career as a Division One student athlete last semester.
When we sit down at Hill dining hall, there’s a characteristic friendliness in his smile that automatically makes me feel welcome, and a general easygoingness that makes it easier to bypass the initial awkwardness (to some extent).
His smile seems to come alive as he tells me what going to practice every afternoon for a minimum of 15 hours a week is truly like. “I don’t even think about, like, ‘Oh, I have to go to practice every day.’ It’s more like, ‘Wow, I get to see my friends every day.’ It’s really like a part–time job but it’s not like a job; it’s a career because you’re having fun with it,” Marvin explains. Marvin’s genuine passion and unwavering dedication is unmistakeable.
His story confirms that some of the best discoveries are made by accident. Marvin’s fascination with running began when he was only in the fourth grade, but the interest waned. He started taking it more seriously after his freshman year of high school.
“I always wanted to be a football player, but my sophomore year I became really good at track and started running, and by my junior year I started getting recruited,” Marvin shares.
He chuckles and fidgets only slightly as he glances over his shoulder at the group of guys a couple of tables away from us—his friends. “I have a lot of friends here; from the track team and also because I did PFP. My social life is really great, and everybody is so nice and everybody works together, especially to get our work done.” PFP, the Pre–Freshman Program, is a four–week program targeted towards first–generation/low–income students that takes place the summer before freshman year.
When he’s not setting records, Marvin is having nice, wholesome fun playing Xbox. Or sleeping. Or possibly coding. “Me and my friends live in Stouffer, so we play a lot of Xbox there. I sleep a lot, but besides that I really am becoming interested in coding. I haven’t taken a CIS class yet, but I definitely want to while I’m here at Penn because it looks really cool.”
I playfully inquire whether he’s considering a major in computer science, but he matter–of–factly informs me that he’s considering majoring in astrophysics in the College. At first, I really thought this was a strange choice, until I prompted him about it.
“Well, when I was a kid, my uncle used to work at NASA, so I was in love with outer space and everything, and then I came here and saw the physics department and fell in love," he said. "I’m more interested in outer space rather than theoretical physics, so that’s how that came about.”
The marvelous (and relieving) part about talking to Marvin is that there’s no need to talk sports. He has a variety of interests ranging from coding, physics, Xbox games, and hyping up New Jersey.
If you ever run into him at Wawa, where he’s probably ordering “a double meat cold sandwich with Italian, ham, and American cheese,” say hello. You might make a friend for the long run.