By Stacey Parker

Khalil and Betty Morrison share the lasting impact LHSP has had on them. Khalil was a Lloyd Scholar and lived in the residence hall his first two years at U-M, and both Khalil and Betty worked with Art Director Mark Tucker assisting in the art studio as work study students for two years.

Khalil is an Assistant Vice President at Comerica Bank. Prior to joining Comerica, Khalil served as a Private Banker at J. P. Morgan Private Bank in New York City and Michigan advising Ultra High Net Worth clients. Khalil earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with a Minor Concentration in Asian Languages and Cultures in 2007.

Betty is a Duo Account Executive at Cisco Systems. Prior to Cisco Systems, she served as a strategic advisor at Thomson Reuters in the Tax and Accounting sales division. Betty earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics of Finance and Risk Management in 2007.

Impact While at Michigan

While Betty was part of the Health Sciences Scholars Program (another Michigan Learning Community) because of her interest in medicine at the time, she is thankful to have taken LHSP classes and worked with Mark.

Betty said, “The program helped to increase my love for art. It also allowed me to explore and learn about art with a group of students who were as excited about art and creativity as I was.”

She recounted how her interest in art began in high school mostly with drawing. That interest developed in Mark’s classes to include sketching and chalk, using color theory, and canvas and acrylic paint. She enjoyed “really diving into art, artists, and techniques.”

Khalil shared, “For me, LHSP represented an automatic community who would ultimately go on to do different things, but while in LHSP, we had a similar goal to become better—better writers and expand our horizons and our understanding.” LHSP provided him with community—a chance to make friends and meet people, but also the opportunity to be challenged and learn of different people’s perspectives in a safe and open environment.  “LHSP represented community. Not necessarily the community I came from but a new one that would be formed from the folks I lived with for two years. I made friends inside of that community, people I still communicate with today, which is awesome.”

The Morrisons both shared their memory of an LHSP trip to Chicago as part of Mark’s art class. Khalil said he remembers “the entire experience being eye-opening.” A lot of the students had never been to a fine arts museum, especially in a major city like Chicago. “I was thankful for the ‘field trip’ in college to increase my appreciation and understanding of artistic expression. Whether these opportunities are focused on writing or the arts, getting away from the university but still within the confines of the community to interact with people and express your thoughts was very valuable,” Khalil said.

Most Important Benefit or Take-Away That Helped Later in Life

Khalil credits LHSP for helping him continue to grow and develop his writing skills and “build that communication muscle that will naturally assist you and make life a little easier whatever career you go into later. Research, finance, medicine, in any of these areas high quality communication can assist you strongly. For me honing communication was the most important benefit.”

Khalil also shared how LHSP’s impact on seeing the world and learning to be challenged has been valuable. In Mark Tucker’s art class, Khalil learned how hard it is to reproduce with your hands an image that you see with your eyes. With training and practice, you can begin to reproduce what you see and that leads to opening “a completely different viewpoint. You start to see the world and even your surroundings in another way—opening one’s mind or expanding one’s mental horizons.” One specific example Khalil gave is to “be able to see what you couldn’t see before. Color. Before that course, I didn’t understand the very depth of color. Color is one of the most amazing things in the world.”

Betty shared how LHSP opened her mind “to the various aspects of art and creativity in the world and in writing.” Through her experience in the art classes and working in the art studio, she learned more art techniques and applicable life lessons, like working hard. “It taught me one can become better and better. One doesn’t start off as a great artist.” She gave Van Gogh as an example who drew a lot of sketches before he developed into painting. Betty majored in math, another subject where one can improve through hard work. “You can teach yourself how to create anything, how to do anything if you take time to learn.” 

How Writing and the Arts Are Still Part of Their Lives

When asked about how writing and the arts are part of their lives now, Betty said, “We are more thoughtful about the art we hang in our home. In that, we also make sure our children are exposed to different kinds of arts and we foster creativity within them as well.”

Khalil emphasized how “writing is a key aspect of your career no matter what you go into, provide high quality communication to your team or client. Having strong written communication skills is extremely important and the program reinforces that all around.”

Advice to Lloyd Scholars

Betty’s advice to future Lloyd Scholars is to come to campus and LSWA with an open mind. “The company I work for (Duo-Cisco)—their motto is to be kinder than necessary. I believe if you approach coming to campus and the program with an open mind and being kinder than necessary you’ll get the most out of any experience in life.”

Khalil’s advice is, “Don’t be afraid to form relationships with people early in the process and make a concerted effort to maintain those relationships throughout your college career and beyond. Those are valuable as you age and go through changes and different stages of life.”

Photos courtesy of the Morrisons