Toggle Menu

“I would be a different person if I didn’t have Choice”

March 3rd 2021

Monticello, Ind. native Morgan Torres attended a public school that “just wasn’t working” until her 8th grade year when one day her mother came to her room and said, “What if we went to Central Catholic [Jr.-Sr. High School]?”

She had learned about Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program — also known as the voucher program — and knew her family would likely qualify. Their Catholic faith was a huge part of their family and Catholic education was their ultimate wish they didn’t know could become a reality.

After receiving her voucher to attend the non-public school of her choice, Morgan and her mother woke up at 5:00 AM every morning to drive an hour to the school she’d always dreamed about.

“At a young age I couldn’t conceptualize the opportunity I had been given,” Morgan said. “But I could confidently tell you now that I would be a different person if I didn’t have Choice. People like me were just stuck.”

Morgan’s dad is an immigrant from Mexico who became legal with the amnesty policy years ago. He brought with him from his home country his family leather business which he’s always done on the side while he works at a local factory to pay bills. Morgan still helps him translate his text messages with his customers.

“He raised us to do hard work. You work all day and you come home and you work some more,” Morgan said.

After Morgan’s first year in the voucher program, her two younger siblings were also able to enroll in a Catholic school with the Choice Scholarship and her mom started working at Central Catholic. From freshman year on, Morgan started taking her education seriously.

She noticed radical differences in everyday life at her new school compared to where she came from. Jesus was front and center. Service to others was a core value. All the things that mattered to her and her family became a part of her school day every single day. You say “thank you” to the cafeteria workers for lunch, you go to rotary club and make blankets for babies, you hug your peers, everything that “wasn’t cool” at her previous school. She now goes back to Central Catholic to speak to high schoolers frequently about her experience and encourages them to be grateful for the education they’re receiving.

“I was given a chance to go in a different direction,” Morgan said. “I got scholarships to go to college. I’m a first generation everything.”

Morgan ended up attending Purdue University so she could remain close to home and family where she studied law and society. She wanted to be a lawyer because, “law always fascinated me and I could see the direct impact it had on people. I wanted to be a part of that. .” Before leaving high school, she joined the Army at the age of 17.

“I’m very blessed to be able to serve my country,” Morgan said. “I just finished up one contract with the Army and onto the next. My experience has been great, my goal is to be a commissioned officer, a JAG. You have to have a law degree to do that so I plan to go to law school next year in the evenings.”

While at Purdue, she became very involved in veterans affairs on campus with the Student Veterans of America chapter, as their first female president. The military population on campus there is large and diverse, so she made it her mission to accomplish a lot of policy change there to help. It should then come as no surprise that Morgan was awarded one of the Top 40 Leaders in her senior class, taking advantage of every opportunity because she was so grateful.

Now, Morgan works as a legislative assistant for the Indiana State Senate in Indianapolis where she sees impactful bills such as ones addressing school choice that so positively influenced the start of her successful career.

“I’m in the legislature every day and I believe that it doesn’t have to come down to politics,” Morgan said. “If your child was struggling, wouldn’t you want them to have the opportunity for a better life?”

When asked what she would say to those who oppose Indiana Choice Scholarships, she said, “I would hope they have the chance to hear about stories like mine and so many others. I wish they knew what the alternative was.

“You have to give water to a seed to let it bloom. Thanks to school choice, I bloomed.”