Following an astonishingly successful athletic career in which she shattered numerous records, UC Davis biomedical engineering major Morgan Bertsch became the first Aggie to be drafted into the WNBA, selected by the Dallas Wings in the third round of the 2019 WNBA Draft.
Bertsch’s list of achievements while at UC Davis is truly remarkable. She is the all-time leading scorer in the history of both the Aggie men's and women's basketball programs. She was the 2019 Big West Player of the Year and Tournament Most Valuable Player. She set many school single-season records, including for scoring average, free throws made, and most 20-point games in a season.
Even as a high school recruit in Santa Rosa, Bertsch was attracting the interest of coaches. “It was important to me to find a university I could succeed in athletically as well as academically. I've always been aware that at some point, sports will no longer be an option for me and I’d need a degree to be successful later in life. UC Davis was a perfect fit for me. It was a great academic school, a great Division 1 competitor and close to home,” she said.
As a freshman, Bertsch had little trouble deciding on a major. “One of the reasons I really enjoy biomedical engineering is that you get to work with the human body and develop innovative ways to help fix, improve or document it,” she said.
In fact, Bertsch comes from a whole family of engineers. “My father got his BS in mechanical engineering and his MS in electrical engineering. He has been teaching engineering courses at Santa Rosa Junior College for more than 30 years now. My sister has a BS in environmental engineering from UC San Diego and has been working as a licensed professional for three years now. My uncle is also a professional engineer working in Silicon Valley,” said Bertsch. “Engineering just runs in the genes!”
Whenever she felt doubted about pursuing excellence in basketball in addition to such a demanding field of study, Bertsch benefited from one role model in particular. “I knew it was possible because I'd seen it done before,” she said. Her own sister and fellow engineer had often taken more than 20 units each quarter to graduate in four years, all while being a three-year starter on the basketball team. “She has been a major supporter of mine. She used her own mistakes and successes to help guide me in my college experience.”
For now, Bertsch hopes to focus on her basketball career without losing touch with the biomedical engineering community she grew into, perhaps through internships or part-time entry positions. “Looking far into the future, my hope is to find a biomedical engineering position that allows me to still work with athletes to develop technology to further the evolution of sport.”