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Morgan Farrier (front) competes at the 2019 Palos Verdes Invitational. Farrier, who graduated as one of Palos Verdes High's valedictorians, was born with cystic fibrosis.( Photo courtesy of Frank Ponce)

Recent Palos Verdes graduate Morgan Farrier, who has cystic fibrosis, didn't let the genetic disease affect her when it came time for cross country or track and field seasons, let alone her studies.

Farrier, who was tabbed as one of PV's Most Inspirational Awardees following her high school career, also earned the school’s top academic honor as one of its valedictorians.

PV cross country and track coach Brian Shapiro credited Farrier's attitude as a key to her success.

"Morgan was always consistent, dependable and up for any challenge we threw her in training or racing," Shapiro said. "She loves a challenge, and loves even the toughest of workouts or races."

Farrier described her condition as one of the more severe cases of cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the lungs and pancreas.

Her daily life has included two treatments per day consisting of nebulizer therapy and chest compression, each lasting at least 30 minutes.

During her junior year, Farrier was hospitalized three times, and said she was constantly sick. In the fall, with fires affecting Los Angeles County, Farrier was unable to train outside.

"Fires definitely put a damper on cross country season because I couldn't run with the team," Farrier said. "So I had to run on a treadmill or in the gym, and I had to try and do 10 mile runs at 60% lung function."

Yet, Farrier said, she still wanted to be part of the team, regardless of missing out on the daily activities.

"I was going to push myself in terms of performance as best I could," Farrier said. "When I wasn't feeling great, I had to place to help others be the best they could be."

As she battled the progressive disease, Farrier missed out on the annual summer Mammoth trip, and the Iolani Invitational in Hawaii.

"Morgan sacrificed so many of the 'fun' experiences of high school cross country, and track, in order to stay healthy," Shapiro said. "She skipped the team's high altitude training camps in Mammoth because it wasn't good for her lungs. You'd never know it, because she never complains. She just soldiers on with a love for running that grows each day."

While Farrier called it a bummer to not make those trips, that sort of sacrifice is just something she has dealt with her entire life, she said.

"It was definitely one of those events where I wish I could have gone. Some kids would come back with stories and inside jokes, and I felt a little outside of the group because of it," Farrier said. "But at the same time, I've made some great friends and still had a lot of the year to bond. It's something I've accepted as part of my disease."

When it came time to apply for colleges, Farrier said she didn't want to go too far away from home. 

The furthest she applied was the University of Washington in Seattle, with the rest of the colleges she applied to being within California.

Farrier was accepted into USC, and is enrolled in the Astronautical Engineering program—the lone program of its kind on the west coast. 

"Since the fifth grade, I always wanted to be an astronaut on Mars, and I was always obsessed with Star Wars and Star Trek," Farrier said. "I joined the PVIT (Palos Verdes Institute of Technology) Space Team, and I felt I could become an engineer because I was good at math and science."

Also a member of PV's jazz band, Farrier carried a 4.6 GPA. School, she said, was something she thoroughly enjoyed.

"Part of it was just passion. Since I was young, I loved school and my parents encouraged me," Farrier said. "A little of it was discipline and organization, including going to sleep early. I learned if you're sleeping how much your body needs, you work more efficiently. Even though I had less time to do homework, I was working more efficiently."

Shapiro saw Farrier excel continuously throughout her four years, even while having to undergo treatments each day.

"Morgan is extremely well-rounded and leads a very balanced life," he said. "It's not common with teenagers these days, and she excels in so many areas, that I think most teachers and coaches would be surprised to learn how good she is at other things, too.

"She lives an incredibly diverse life with a threat of consistent hard work running through and connecting all of her endeavors."

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