Una Morris '70, Zoology
Diagnostic radiologist. Olympic athlete.
Entrepreneur. Motivational speaker.
Each of these titles represents a rare
accomplishment on its own. To have them
all describe the same person is even
more phenomenal. And yet, that’s exactly
the case with Dr. Una Morris, who has
repeatedly overcome the odds to achieve
Born and raised in Kingston,
Jamaica, Morris lost her mother to illness
when she was 10. At 17, she moved
to California to finish high school and
pursue a career in science.
“Before my mom died, she made
me promise her I would pursue my
education,” she says. “And even though
I knew it was a very difficult road, I
decided to become a physician.”
After graduating from Cal Poly
Pomona in 1970 with a degree in zoology,
Morris went on to the University of
California, San Francisco to earn her
medical degree. She invested another
three years to become a diagnostic
radiologist and has been practicing in
the Pasadena area for the past 32 years.
Because the percentage of minority
women in the medical field is quite low,
Morris finds herself a role model to
minority youth everywhere.
“I love the field of radiology because
it’s continually changing and adapting to
new technology,” she says. “Plus, this
career choice has been very conducive to
being a wife and a mother of three.”
Her love of science, however, is only
one of her passions.
About the time her mother died,
Morris discovered another skill: running.
For the next decade, she honed her natural talent and eventually competed in a number of track events — with very impressive results.
Her laser focus and commitment to hard work helped her compete in the 1964,
1968 and 1972 Olympics, earning fourth place in the 200-meter race in the 1964 Tokyo
Olympics. She also earned the gold medal in the 200-meter and 4x100-meter relay in
the 1966 Caribbean games; a gold medal in the 200-meter race in the 1967 USA Indoor
Championship; and a silver medal, along with numerous others.
In addition, she was named Sportswoman of the Year in 1964 and 1965; held the
world record for the 300-meter track event in 1966 and 1967; and held Jamaican records in
the 200-, 400-, 800-meter and Pentathlon events.
During the course of her life, Morris has also pursued a variety of other interests.
She owned and operated a Jamaican restaurant in the Pasadena area for many years,
has invested in real estate, served as assistant professor of radiology at Los Angeles County/University of Southern California
Medical Center and continues to spend
her free time motivating the next
generation of scientists.
Considering her love of science,
it’s no surprise to learn she supports
Cal Poly Pomona’s Science Educational
Enhancement Services (SEES) program,
which promotes diversity among science
students. In fact, she gives not only her
time but also financial support annually,
including a $3,000 gift this past April.
“I often meet with students to
encourage them to overcome their
personal struggles in order to achieve their
goals,” she explains. “When I was their
age, I wished I had someone to encourage
me to reach my dreams. Many of these
students are already highly motivated,
but sometimes they need a little extra
Based on a lifelong history of
overcoming odds, Morris’ advice to young
people is always the same. “I tell them,‘There’s nothing you can’t accomplish
if you persevere and really believe in
yourself. Nothing should ever prevent you
from reaching your goals.’”
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