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The Morehead-Cain Scholarship (originally the Morehead Scholarship) was the first merit scholarship program established in the United States, founded at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is named for its benefactors, John Motley Morehead III and the Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation. Modeled after the Rhodes Scholarship, the Morehead-Cain provides a full four-year scholarship covering tuition, books, room and board, a laptop computer, and four summer experiences known as the Morehead-Cain's Summer Enrichment Program. Nominees must be a competitive applicant to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and unmarried with no children.
The Morehead Scholarship was created in 1951 by the Morehead Foundation, when John Motley Morehead III, bequeathed to the University of North Carolina $130 million, commissioned the University's planetarium, and funded the John Motley Morehead Foundation. The Foundation and scholarship was renamed the Morehead-Cain in 2007 after the Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation contributed $100 million to the program.
Summer Enrichment Program
The Summer Enrichment Program was established in 1974. It fully funds activities for students in four areas (Outdoor Leadership, Civic Collaboration, Global Perspective, and Professional Experience) which occur in the summers before their respective class year.
The summer before students enter the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, they participate in an NOLS or an Outward Bound course throughout the country in order to push themselves physically and mentally through a number of individual and group challenges.
A relatively recent addition to the program is the development of the Civic Collaboration summer, in which teams of rising sophomores are placed in mid-sized US cities to partner with a governmental or community organization to help develop solutions to local and regional challenges. Previous placements have taken place in Albuquerque, New Mexico; St. Louis, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Before the student's Junior year they have an opportunity to design a summer that will bring them into contact with a global perspective or work environment. While many students travel abroad for this summer, other elect to remain in the United States to pursue global-minded work domestically. Students may pursue study abroad programs, traditional internships, purposeful travel, or other avenues for this summer
The final summer program encourages students to work in a professional capacity. Projects have ranged from policy work with the World Health Organization to investment banking and industry research with Goldman Sachs. This may be swapped with the Global Perspective option in the sequence of a student's summers in accordance with their individual four-year plan.
The selection process for the Morehead-Cain is extremely rigorous, with only three percent of each year's nominees selected as Morehead-Cain Scholars. High school seniors demonstrating exceptional impact and academic achievement from North Carolina and from select schools across the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and various other countries are eligible for the prestigious scholarship. Criteria for selection are:
- Moral Force of Character
- Physical Vigor
Notable alumni include ACC commissioner John Swofford; author Taylor Branch; U.S. Congressmen Jim Cooper and Mike McIntyre; Roy A. Cooper, Governor of North Carolina; Major League Baseball player Tyrell Godwin; historian Donald K. Gowan II; David Gardner, co-founder of the Motley Fool; Peter Blair Henry, Dean of New York University Stern School of Business; businesswoman Sallie Krawcheck, named by Forbes to its list of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women; Alan Murray, editor of Fortune magazine; Clive Stafford Smith, the human rights lawyer; Candice Woodcock, a contestant on Survivor: Cook Islands and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains; New York Times journalists Frank Bruni and Keith Bradsher; Broadway actor Kevin Massey; and Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health; Norman E. Sharpless, director of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; Richard Vinroot, former Mayor of Charlotte and North Carolina gubernatorial candidate; Jennifer Roberts, former Mayor of Charlotte; and Jessica Polka, Director of non-profit ASAPbio.