SODA Spotlight: Morgan Miovski Details The Leadership Skills She Gained From Her SODA Journey
Written by Zoe Engels, Contributing Writer and Editor
SODA alumna Morgan Miovski co-founded SODA at Northeastern University in 2020 and subsequently served as the chapter’s president. Although she graduated from Northeastern in Spring 2022 with a degree in Cell and Molecular Biology, she continues to be an organ donation advocate, carrying her SODA experiences and skills with her in her day-to-day life and current work as a Research Assistant for the Transplant Research Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Morgan, who is originally from Westfield, NJ, was inspired to become an organ donation advocate three years ago, in October 2019, when her family found out that her mom had end-stage liver disease. Her mom had been in and out of the hospital for years, but it was only then that they received the diagnosis. Without a transplant, Morgan’s mom was given a life expectancy of less than one year.
Although Morgan and her family members were registered as organ donors, she describes the idea of organ donation as having been “quite foreign” to them, so they took the time to educate themselves about donation. Morgan then asked to be evaluated as a potential living donor, and she received the call that she was a match while walking Northeastern’s Campus—in the same spot where the SODA chapter would hold an advocacy event years later.
“On March 24th, 2020, my mom successfully received the right lobe of my liver,” Morgan shared via email. “She went on to make a fantastic recovery and is back to her happy and loving self. Organ donation saved my life in an unthinkable way, and I am forever indebted to this cause. I join advocacy efforts so that other families can feel the same miracle that touched my family.”
Morgan began her organ, eye, and tissue donation advocacy journey through New England Donor Services (NEDS), an Organ Procurement Organization, whose Volunteer Coordinator, Jennifer Cray, told Morgan about SODA and connected her with three other Northeastern students who shared her passion for organ donation advocacy. It is this sequence of events that led to the creation of SODA at Northeastern University.
To find out if there is a SODA chapter on your campus, check out our chapter map here.
Among the SODA events that stand out most to Morgan from her time as an undergraduate student is a Q&A with Matt James, the former Bachelor. This Q&A raised funds for the NEDS Blue & Green Walk, which creates awareness for organ, eye, and tissue donation.
But her absolute favorite event was “Doughnuts and Donation.” In New England, Morgan explains that Krispy Kreme doughnut locations are few and far between (as in a two-hour drive from Boston), but she was determined to host an event with those doughnuts. Morgan ordered and picked up the 600 doughnuts and drove them back to campus for the event, which is the one that was held in the same spot where she learned she was a match for her mom. Students enjoyed the sweet treats while learning about organ, eye, and tissue donation from different speakers, including members of SODA at Northeastern; NEDS volunteers; Matt Boger, the State Relations Manager for NEDS; and a Northeastern professor. Morgan described the event as one of the chapter’s proudest moments and accomplishments because, that day alone, they educated nearly 1,000 students.
If you’re a chapter member or are looking to host an event, check out our Student Resources page on Notion for inspiration.
Her experiences as a founder and President of SODA at Northeastern taught Morgan important leadership skills as she tried to strike the balance between making sure everyone was excited to be a part of SODA while still making important, executive decisions after listening to feedback from her peers.
“Finding that balance was hard for me, I didn’t like being what I thought was the ‘bad guy,’” Morgan explained. I also wish I had put more effort into delegating. … If I had to go back in time, I wish I empowered more members with more creative freedom—one plus one equals three!”
It was a learning curve that she has been able to reflect upon and take with her, having gained the skills to lead a team as well as the listening, compassion, and empathy skills that she utilizes and needs in her work as a Research Assistant and beyond.
Throughout her life, she gravitated toward biology but was unsure of what that might look like in her future.
“After my mom’s transplant, I knew that I wanted to make the same types of impacts on other people and their families as was made on my own,” Morgan said. I decided at that point that I wanted to be a physician. … Transplantation – and SODA – have left [a profound] impact on my life.”
She added, “I can’t get enough of the transplant community!”
For Morgan, organ, eye, and tissue donation advocacy and education are important because they can help shrink the national organ shortage and can change the lives of recipients, donors, and their families. With deceased organ donation, Morgan explains that a family’s grief is often helped by knowing that their loved one has saved lives and lives on in others. She also knows firsthand that living donation saves lives and teaches the importance of “love, sacrifice, and perseverance.” In both cases, recipients are given a second chance at life.
“When a family, like my own, is told that a family member is so sick that they may not survive, you start to think differently,” Morgan shared. “You start to imagine your life without that person. When you’re then told that there’s something that can be done—that a new functional organ can replace their faulty one and give them a second shot at
life—it is a priceless hope that I can’t even put into words. That’s what makes everything worth it.”
Morgan encourages current students to pursue their passions for organ, eye, and tissue donation advocacy and get involved. Her advice for those interested in starting a SODA chapter is to get chapter members excited because organ donation is “emotional and beautiful and we need to show that” in order to inspire people to register as donors. Secondly, she encourages chapter leaders to create a long-term plan for growing the chapter and retaining members, such as advertising leadership opportunities and fostering a supportive, growth-minded environment that will encourage existing members to stay and new members to come in.
In three words, she describes organ donation advocacy as “impactful, rewarding, and FUN!”
“My passion for it grows more and more every day—can you believe that is even possible?” she asks.
If you’re interested in pursuing your passion for organ donation and expanding it every day, visit sodanational.org/students to get started by hosting an event or founding a SODA chapter.