Ree Morrow ’22 realized something as she drove with her husband from Oklahoma City to Hartford in the summer of 2019 to begin her first year at the UConn School of Law. She wanted to document the varieties of American culture that they were seeing and bring them to schools around the nation.
The idea was still with her a year and a half later, in her second year at UConn Law, when she heard about the Hinkle Entrepreneurship Competition. The winner would receive a $7,000 cash award to start a business.
Morrow’s proposal, “The Road That Connects,” won the competition. After she graduates next year and passes the bar exam, Morrow and her husband, Colin, will take to the road to explore and document the country, region by region. She expects the entire process of filming and editing the material to take up to five years.
The couple plans to deck out a van for them to comfortably live and travel in for months at a time. Once finished on the mainland, they will fly to Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico and other territories. Colin Morrow, who has a background in film and editing, will shoot the footage of Ree interacting with and interviewing local people and explaining points of local history and culture. As they complete each regional package of video, lessons and activities in geography, civics and history, the Morrows plan to market it to educational institutions.
The grant comes with connections to the Connecticut Small Business Development Center, the Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Law Clinic at UConn Law, and the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology to help carry out the business plan. The award is funded by Muriel and David Hinkle ’76, who founded their technical services business, Sonalysts, in 1973, while David was an evening student at the law school.
“Ree’s application for ‘The Road That Connects’ immediately caught the attention of the Hinkle Entrepreneurship Competition Committee,” said UConn Law Professor Kathleen Lombardi, who is a co-director of the clinic and a member of the committee. “After speaking with her, it was clear she has both the background and the passion for education, diversity, equity and inclusion to really make her project a success.”
Before entering law school, Morrow organized religious education for a church and taught grades one through nine in her native Oklahoma City. Mission work and other travel as a child fundamentally shifted her outlook, she said.
“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been so amazed at traveling to new places and really seeing how life is and can be different around the country and world,” she said. “I’m so excited to be able to give students an authentic and deep view of how people live their lives differently and meaningfully across this nation.”
Her interest in the law developed later in life, when she took a Non-Profit Law class at Oklahoma City University while studying for a master’s degree in Nonprofit Arts Leadership and Administration. While “The Roads That Connect” is her next big project, she also harbors a passionate interest in policy and the systems and structure of law.
“I grew up knowing I wanted to help people and I just never really connected that to law or being a lawyer, I just thought of what I saw in movies,” Morrow said. “Before that class, I never knew that being a lawyer could mean that.”
Once at UConn Law in 2019, Morrow immediately began involving herself in organizations and student associations. She is president of the Womxn’s Law Students’ Association and co-president of the American Constitution Society.
Carriana Field, director of graduate and exchange programs at UConn Law and advisor to the Womxn’s Law Students’ Association, said Morrow has renewed the organization’s identity. She led the association to change the word “Women” in its name to “Womxn” to promote gender inclusivity.
“Ree has worked to create an even more inclusive way of thinking about gender and all the ways that people self-identify and correct,” Field said. “Her Hinckle project again highlights how she brings people together through learning and exposure to new people, places and ideas.”
Morrow believes that the stars aligned for her project. Not only can she rely on her husband’s videography skills, but a friend who is a teacher is advising her on distribution. To top it off, Morrow’s sister and brother-in-law will help outfit the van.
“After I won, a friend told me ‘This is the most Ree Morrow thing I have ever seen. It just had to be,’” Morrow said. “This project is going to be such an exciting combination of all the amazing people in my life and their unique skills and something I’m really passionate about.”