The Cheongs had money, that much was clear. Their Upper West Side apartment said as much, and Morgan was born into a family, where she could have anything she could have ever wanted - as long as she worked for it. Good behavior and even better grades were rewarded with materialism, and she was given the freedom to pursue whatever interest caught their fancy.
It wasn't that she was spoiled. The Cheongs, Michelle and Daniel, were merely all too easy to provide. Both worked long days (Michelle a cardiothoracic surgeon, Daniel a forensic psychologist). They had high hopes for their little girl who seemed to hate being put into metaphorical boxes and yet was all too glad to leave her toys scattered everywhere, including building blocks that often got in the way of the neighbors.
Despite the silver spoon in her mouth, Michelle tried to keep a sense of normalcy in the household even with parents who worked long hours and the best nannies available to them that money could buy. But why pay for a nanny when your own mother was so eager to spend time with her granddaughter? And so Keiko arrived a few weeks towards the end of the second grade, ready to take her place as Morgan's summer babysitter and companion. Together they would share meals, go to museums, and go on whatever adventures the city had to offer, with many of these trips leading them to the Central Park Zoo most days or the nearby American Museum of Natural History, which almost always had a Mister Softee truck nearby.
School seemed to come easily to Morgan. Maybe it was a natural gift, or maybe it was all of the extra tutoring from her grandmother. Whatever it was, teachers and administrators took notice and called her parents in for a special meeting after classes one day. Their message was clear: Morgan's standardized test scores placed her in the upper percentile of students across the entire city, and she would be much better off were she to start high school in a more challenging setting.
Not too keen on the idea of splitting up from her friends, Morgan and her parents began to tour the private school circuit where they ultimately decided on Friends Seminary near Union Square. By the time the first week of 9th grade rolled around, Morgan had begrudgingly accepted that she was leaving her friends behind to join a world that was completely foreign to her: prep school. Most of her peers had grown up together and came from a fairly homogenous background that the Cheongs fit into in theory, but less so in practice. While she was able to make a couple of friends, she missed the group that she had grown up with, and was quick to grow resentful of her parents for forcing her into this situation to begin with. She began to rebel, starting with small transgressions that she thought to be harmless: pushing her curfew to the limits, neglecting chores, passive-aggressive snark and attitude. Daniel insisted that this new behavior was nothing of real concern now that they had a brooding teenager in their house, and he did his best to distract Morgan with his new business endeavor: private investigation. The work caught Morgan's attention, and before long, her father was able to sell his practice and transition to the world of PI work full-time. Though Morgan was too young to officially partake in the new family business, she was tasked with smaller roles and relegated to research. After developing a bad habit of breaking curfew, cutting class, using her emergency credit card for...well, everything, and letting her grades slip, the Cheongs handed down an ultimatum: stop messing around and get your grades up, or you're fired.
If Daniel's intention in involving his daughter in his work was to have more leverage over her, it worked. Morgan managed to juggle her schoolwork with her work life, getting her grades back up and never straying from the honor roll while spending a couple of hours each day devoted to transcribing notes and other mundane tasks. The work fascinated her and kept her attention long enough until her junior year when her own restlessness set in once again. While following through on a hunch, Morgan was badly injured after sideswiped by a cab. She claimed that all of her attention had been focused on her mark. With extensive injuries including a concussion, several cuts and bruises, a few broken ribs and a broken tibia and fibula in her left leg, surgery and several months of inpatient and home rehab were in order. Her skateboard had been replaced by a wheelchair before she could eventually graduate to crutches. School was put on hold despite that college admissions season was coming up, and once she had recovered enough and was able, the faculty at Friends worked with the Cheongs to ensure that Morgan's academics stayed on track while making accommodations for her extensive recovery time.
Recovery and rehab were challenges that eventually saw Morgan getting back on her feet after several months. Several months of her junior year were completed remotely, though she was able to return to classes for the last month or so of the academic year. Summer kicked off with a few remaining weeks of therapy and Morgan feeling almost as good as new, though of course, the PTSD caused by the car accident unfortunately continued to have longer lasting effects than a few broken bones.
Senior year came and went and with it, Morgan made a decision that surprised everyone who knew her: art school. Though she had told her parents that she had applied at more traditional colleges and universities, outside of some safety schools, most of her college application fees went towards art schools. Unbeknownst to her parents, she had a managed to build an art portfolio that caught the eyes of several admissions officers. Thus, she spent the next four years at MICA, the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore where she earned a BFA in Interactive Arts.
After graduating from college, Morgan returned to New York with every intention of striking out on her own with her craft. She rented an apartment with far more roommates than she cared for and worked hard to exploit her connections to try to establish herself as a freelance graphic designer. She was usually able to drum up enough work to sustain herself and gradually expanded her portfolio to include some lighter photography and video/motion work. After a reasonable amount of success, Morgan decided that the long, grueling days and the pretension that ran rampant within design circles wasn't really her thing anymore, and she began to wind down her design work while picking up more work with her father in preparation for becoming a licensed investigator.
Training and licensing came and went, but Morgan was beginning to feel claustrophobic. Returning to her hometown, which happened to be one of the greatest cities in the world, began to feel suffocating. Rent was high and moving back home was absolutely not an option, even if her frugality had tempted her with it. In yet another move that surprised everyone in her family, Morgan decided to strike out west and establish herself in Oakland, California. There, she would continue her PI work once she was licensed in California and open up the West Coast office of her father's business, Due Diligence, LLC.
Work came and went but wasn't as steady in a market that was flooded with other PIs, many of whom were much older and much more experienced than she was. Morgan had savings but it was clear that they wouldn't last long. Dipping into them each month to stretch her paycheck felt like cheating at first, but a few checks in, it felt like a necessity. Rent, utilities, BART fare, groceries, it all added up, and it added up fast. When the listing for a jack of all trades, master of none position at SNTV fell into her lap, she jumped at the opportunity to apply for the job. The network expected a competitive process and while Morgan wasn't sure that she could woo them with her old college reel, it was still worth a try.