Madison Morton, a senior majoring in intercultural peacebuilding from Pocatello, Idaho, said she has been working as a lead resident assistant since Fall 2019 and chose to stay on island to work during the pandemic even though most students went home. She said she was excited to be part of the “quaranteam” of RAs who assisted the quarantine residents, even though it meant she would miss her sister’s wedding, time with family and going home for Christmas.
“I felt like I had a lot of things going for me here and a lot of ways I could be helpful in that special time. It was a horrible time, but in some ways, it was a really special time to be able to help people,” she said.
Ali Morton, a freshman majoring in biology from Pocatello, Idaho, said her sister Madison Morton is a nurturing leader who experiences the trials of her residents, friends and family with them rather than just overseeing and checking up on them.
Zayne Williams, Madison Morton’s coworker and a senior from Florida majoring in communications, said, if she was “trying to find someone on this campus who is the most like Christ, I would honestly say it is [Madison Morton].”
Williams said when the University suspended in-person classes last year, Madison Morton was at the “forefront” because she stayed on campus. “She was so dedicated to her position here and the good she could do in this job that she stayed through it all. … That wasn’t easy, but she really stuck through it,” Williams said.
As lead RA of the quarantine hale, Madison Morton said she helped supervise living conditions, hale harmony and helped make sure every resident followed safety rules. Williams said Madison Morton made tough choices as she led the other RAs through the pandemic.
Madison Morton said she loved working with quarantine residents because “a lot of it was less about enforcing rules and more about helping, nurturing and care taking [to make] sure they were in a good place mentally and physically.”
She explained it was a special opportunity to be the one her residents relied on to do things they couldn’t do themselves. “It exaggerated all the parts I love about being an RA. … There’s something so cool about being able to help residents in the certain way RAs get to.” She added she loves nurturing and taking care of the girls she assists.
Madison Morton said, “Working with people in quarantine? One of my favorite things.” She shared she relished the opportunity “to help [others] in a way they couldn’t help themselves.”
Typically, hale residents are responsible for taking out their trash every night, and she explained the RAs check if the residents completed the chore. However, because those in the quarantine hale were incapable of taking out their trash, Madison Morton explained she and her team did it for them.
Ali Morton said she can see her sister “wants to help carry [resident’s] burdens, whether that burden comes in a trash bag or … in the form of anxiety or the everyday trials of life” while she works as an RA. She said this quality is Christlike and she wants to follow her sister’s example.
Standing at the line
Williams said she met Madison Morton because she was her lead RA when she got a job as an RA in hale seven. As Williams started her new job, she said she was worried about working with new people, but Madison Morton helped her feel more comfortable. “I stepped in and she was so bubbly and kind. We started talking and instantly became friends. … She made me feel like I fit in so well … because she was there being my friend and guiding me.”
Williams said there was a time when she felt like the whole world was crashing down around her and didn’t know who would care, so she struggled to reach out to others for help. She recounted one day she ran into Madison Morton and tried to mirror her positivity, but said she saw through the facade. “She could tell something was wrong immediately, and she really wanted to know how I was doing,” Williams explained.
She said Madison Morton didn’t push her to talk but said she would always be there for her. At that time, Williams said it was important Madison Morton didn’t push too hard, but showed she was there and she cared. “She is someone who can understand … She knows where the line is to be there for someone and she doesn’t cross it. She is right up at that line, waiting to be there for [people].”
Ali Morton said of her sister, “She is the best human in the entire world.” When her sister had just gotten to BYUH, Ali Morton said they spoke on the phone and Madison Morton told Ali Morton she would love to come to BYUH. “She told me this story of going to a karaoke night and meeting this dude and having the best night in the world.”
“She is the best human in the entire world.”
She said of that phone call, “It was one of the first times I realized just how awesome and outgoing my sister is.” Ali Morton said her sister taught her when you reach out to other people, they are also going to reach out to you. She said that memory has stuck with her since she has come to study at BYUH.
Ali Morton called her sister an “acknowledger” because if she sees someone she knows, “She will always acknowledge them. I think because of her warmth, her acknowledgment is always reciprocated.”
When Madison Morton isn’t working as an RA, she said she works as a peacebuilding field director over campus housing for the David O. McKay Center for Intercultural Understanding. In this position, she said she helps plan and facilitate peacebuilding events and service projects around the island, along with a team of four other field directors.
After she graduates this Fall 2021 semester, Madison Morton said she plans to stay on the island for an internship. She said she is looking forward to pursuing her master’s degree in peace and conflict studies. •