Karen Morris-Priester


 Karen Morris-Priester’s is the story of an empowered student, a dedicated professional, an unswerving mother; the story of an unstoppable woman with a deep held passion for learning.   A Doctor of Medicine, board-certified anesthesiologist, and Yale University School of Medicine graduate, Karen is a respected physician sought after by patients and colleagues for her exceptional care, wealth of experience, and inspiring story. After graduating from Yale, Karen completed her residency at a Harvard-affiliated program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is the mother of five, and grandmother of six.    Her story made national news when she appeared on Oprah’s “Cheers to You” episode in May, 2007, where she was recognized as the first grandmother to graduate from the Yale University School of Medicine, but her journey to that moment was a complex one.   Raised in Harrisburg’s housing projects, Karen longed to be a doctor, but watched her college dreams vanish when she became a mother at seventeen; she was soon married with five children, and it wasn’t until her oldest daughter asked where she had attended college that Karen knew it was time to stop putting her ambitions on hold.   After he discouraged her desire for education, Karen left her husband and enrolled in classes on her own; pursuing a nursing degree at Harrisburg Area Community College. Suddenly a single mother, her days became a dizzying marathon of work, school, and caring for her five youngsters.   Once she had her nursing degree, Karen couldn’t push medical school out of her mind. She began taking chemistry classes at night, and her dedication, skill, and passion continued to grow, finally leading her to Yale’s competitive program; a place that a few years before, had seemed impossibly out of reach.    Active as a public speaker, education advocate, and author, Karen emanates a warmth that’s felt the moment she enters a room. Today, she spends her time motivating individuals to tackle the impossible, overcome adversity, and live life to its fullest.  

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