Morgan Cupp had to stay calm for the sake of the very pregnant woman he was pushing around in a wheelchair.
The soon-to-be mother had arrived at the emergency room entrance to the Pinnacle Health hospital in Harrisburg in urgent need of a transfer to the maternity ward.
“It was not an easy trip,” said Cupp, 17, a senior at Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School. “I was a little concerned. I didn’t know anything about actual delivery.”
The Upper Allen Township youth spent part of last summer as a volunteer in the waiting area of the emergency room. One of his jobs was helping people access other parts of the hospital.
For a few moments, Cupp was alone in an elevator with the woman who was close to giving birth. At another point, he had to lead her through the hustle and bustle of other people moving through the busy corridors.
“I stayed calm for her because she was having trouble keeping calm,” Cupp said. They made it to the ward without incident.
Cupp had a choice of assignments to pick from when he volunteered at the hospital where his mother, Susan, works as a nurse in the heart catheterization lab.
He could have gone with maintenance or with handling supplies, but he chose instead a busier place. “I thought the most things will be going on in the emergency room,” said Cupp, who put in about 30 hours over the summer.
Much of his work involved interacting with visitors and patients as they came in and asking those waiting if they needed water, blankets or anything else for their comfort.
“It was a good experience,” he said. “It was really interesting just hearing people’s stories.”
Cupp volunteered in part to see if he wanted to enter the medical field as a career. On the surface, it seemed an obvious choice. Both his mother and grandmother are nurses and his older sister is studying to be a nurse at the University of Pittsburgh.
Seeing the satisfaction of hospital staff helped solidify in Cupp a conclusion he had already made. “I knew before that I wanted to help people,” he said. “Whatever my career choice will ultimately be, I would be helping people.”
Cupp was off to an early start his sophomore year when he volunteered to be a buddy for a youth interested in Special Olympics. Cupp has also been involved with helping organizers set up the annual Tri4Kids Triathlon and the Mechanicsburg Middle School Turkey Trot, two events he enjoyed participating in as a boy growing up in the school district.
A member of the Mechanicsburg High School cross country team, Cupp finished fourth in the PIAA Class AAA meet, won District 3 and Mid-Penn titles, broke a school record and led the Wildcats to a Mid-Penn Keystone title and a 10th place finish in the PIAA state championships. Cupp was named The Sentinel’s Boys Runner of the Year in Cross Country.
But instead of the medical field, Cupp is leaning more toward combining his passion for math and science into an engineering degree that he could use to land a job that can make a difference in helping people.
“I’m always asking why,” Cupp said. “Why this is happening? Why that is happening? Engineering kind of satisfies that curiosity. Engineering I thought would be the best combination for me.”
Cupp has applied for an early decision to Cornell University where he plans to study engineering and to continue running. For now, he has not settled on what type of engineering to pursue, preferring to wait and see what options are presented during introductory classes his freshman and sophomore years in college.
Biomedical engineering is an option Cupp is looking at because it is an emerging field with close ties to health care. Cupp is preparing for college by taking as many math and science classes as possible. His senior year schedule includes advanced placement courses in calculus, physics and chemistry.
“My best accomplishment has been to balance them all,” Cupp said. “I’ve done pretty well in all of them.” He is ranked first in his class of 287 students.
Cupp called his class ranking a byproduct of hard work and his natural curiosity.