It was serendipity that brought Dez Morrow ’17 to the Harley School in 2010. Dez was a student at the Urban Choice Charter School and doing just fine. One day, his mom was with one of her patients, a former head of the school, and he was telling her about Harley. The very next day, Dez came to Harley to take an entrance exam and a week later he started Grade 6 at his new school.
Adjusting to a new environment is always difficult because you don’t know the place and you don’t really know the people. Dez says Mr. S (Raj Singaravelu) (Lower School 2004-2007, Middle School History, 2007-present), his history and English teacher, made it easy to connect with students and faculty due to his extroverted manner and passion for teaching. “Mr. S would work with the students to write screenplays and make movies.” He recalls one action/adventure movie where they took over the middle school using Nerf guns, building fortresses, and barricades. “We had these amazing action scenes, but they always ended with a handshake.” Mr. S would also film students sharing why they care about Harley and would create a montage to show in class.
Dez was also involved with HAC athletics. He credits Lorie Rick (1999-present), Peter Mancuso (1998-2022) and Lindsay Worner ’02 (2010-2022) for motivating him to join the swim team in Grade 7. He stuck with it throughout his time at Harley, even taking on the role of captain of the varsity swim team. He also participated in baseball. He says he wasn’t necessarily the best player, but he loved the camaraderie among his teammates and coaches.
In 2017, he began at the College of Wooster as a psychology major. He wanted to participate in athletics and decided to try football. During the football season, he suffered from a concussion and this injury changed his college career. His grades started suffering and when he went to see his college advisor, he was told that he might want to change his major and “pick something that you are good at.” With that in mind, he changed his major to Spanish. That decision gave him the “craziest, most memorable experience” of his life in 2019 during his semester abroad in Chile. During his time in Chile, there was a civil war going on over taxes and he was stuck in the capital which had been taken over by protesters and riots. No one spoke English and when he was trying to get out of the country, he had to figure out how to solve the issue on his own. In the end, he was able to fly to Georgia after coordinating with his study abroad program. He was safe, and although scary, he found it liberating. This experience showed him that he can overcome any obstacle, even in a foreign land.
Following graduation, Dez wanted to apply his language skills as he looked for a job and he considered nursing as he always had an interest in biomedical sciences. With that in mind, he returned to Rochester and started taking anatomy and physiology among other pre-requisite classes at Monroe Community College. His classes at MCC went so well that when he finished his first semester last fall, he started doing work as a STEM tutor.
Until recently, Dez was also very involved in the Harley swim program. In the summer of 2014, he began volunteering as a swim instructor for The Horizons Program. In 2015, he was employed with The Harley School as a swim instructor and certified lifeguard. In 2018, he was promoted to head lifeguard for summer programming. By 2019, Dez spent his summer days as the Director of Aquatics for the Harley summer camp program and Horizons. In the summer of 2022, he learned that Peter Mancuso was retiring and he wanted to take a step-up in the Harley swim program. He pioneered his own way into an administrative role and went from directing only the summer programs to directing all aquatic related events for The Harley School. He said he was overwhelmed at times, but always felt encouraged by Lorie, Peter, and Lindsay. They had given him a foundation that provided the leadership qualities to do anything.
Although he just left his aquatic director position at the end of September, Dez says the work was gratifying. He felt that he contributed to the development and well-being of those happy, smiling kids and he loves giving back to his community. “Harley provided me with everything that I know now and I want to share that knowledge. I know that I always have a home at Harley. My roots are here.”
What’s Dez doing now? He just started a job at Unity Hospital as a patient care technician on the Orthopedic Medical Surgical floor. He is also applying to SUNY Brockport’s accelerated 15-month BS in Nursing program. He could start as soon as the Summer of 2023. Dez hopes to be a travel nurse, to have “total autonomy” so he can travel the world and do what he loves.