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Spotlight: Goals important for custodian, track coach

Whether tidying up conference rooms, working toward a nursing degree or coaching runners, Domonique Morton tries to do more than just get the job done. She views each task as an opportunity to put forth her best effort, and to encourage others to do the same.
(Photo by Austin Thomason, U-M Photo Services)

Morton has been a custodian since 2005 and currently works in the Biomedical Science Research Building. On a normal workday she cleans bathrooms and hallways, ensures conference rooms are tidy for impromptu or scheduled meetings, and handles general cleaning on the fifth floor.

"I guess when I leave here I feel accomplished, because you always leave it feeling good about what you did today," she says.

"Being a custodian makes you more considerate, and lets you know that people aren't just their job," Morton says. "If you never sit down and listen to someone, you'll never know where they come from."

Morton says she takes delight in the compliments she receives about her work, such as after she had buffed a floor to a sparkling sheen.

"People would walk by and tell me how nice my floor looked, and that made me feel really appreciated. We custodians are really needed and we really do a lot for people, like take out their garbage and clean their bathrooms, and it's nice to feel appreciated for it. I'm not just that person scrubbing their toilet," she says.

After leaving work in the springtime, Morton coaches track at Ypsilanti High School. She started at her alma mater in 2002, and became the head assistant coach in 2004. Morton writes workout routines for the students during practice and sometimes for their training outside of practice, much like homework. She also keeps the stats during meets and practices.

"We start out the first day of practice having them run 800 meters, and then we have them start pushing," she says. The goal is to progress to better times and longer distances, and improve the overall strength of the running muscles, as well as to have the students set their own goals.

"Don't settle for less. Don't fall into the notion that I'm only good at 'this,'" Morton says she often tells her students. "Always challenge yourself to be better. Try to do a little bit better, and be the best, or try to be the best, at whatever you try to do."

She relishes the moments when students accomplish their goals. "The excitement that is on students' faces when they exceed their expectations is amazing. It's better than accomplishing something yourself," Morton says.

One of the goals for all students on the track team is to maintain a good grade point average, something about which Morton is adamant. "If you aren't keeping yourself eligible, I can't do anything for you," she tells her team members.

And the same goes for her.

"They kind of drive me. I can't tell them they have to keep a 3.5 GPA if I'm not doing my homework and getting good grades."

Morton, while coaching and working for U-M, also is a full-time nursing student at Eastern Michigan University, and looks to complete her degree in two years. "I'd love to say I'd have it done in less time, but if I have a goal, I have to do it. I can't just not meet it.

"I love coaching. I guess it's a hobby, or community service, but it's so rewarding, teaching something you know how to do or what people generally don't know," she says.

Morton maintains a close bond with all of her track athletes. They are Facebook friends and she gives them a personal phone number. When asked if they call for advice, she says, "They call and we talk. Sometimes it's small talk or they might need help. I guess I like having that relationship with kids."

The weekly Spotlight features staff members at the university. To nominate a candidate, please contact the Record staff at

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