The Morehead-Cain Foundation, which was the first merit scholarship program in the U.S., has named 59 Class of 2019 Morehead-Cain Scholars, who will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Thirty-four of the scholars are from North Carolina and 14 live in or near the Triangle.
The scholars will receive full scholarships for four years of undergraduate study at UNC, along with four years of fully funded summer enrichment programs.
During the course of four summers, scholars will have opportunities to complete an outdoor leadership course, commit themselves to public service, conduct research at sites around the world, and gain experience in private enterprise.
Never miss a local story.
The local Morehead-Cain scholars are:
▪ Darryl “Keith” Beasley Jr. of Hillside High School in Durham. Keith serves as treasurer of student government and captain of the varsity football team.
Keith is also a member of the Durham Youth Council, advising city leaders on issues relevant to teens, and a volunteer with Peace Toys for War Toys. Keith is the son of Darryl Beasley Sr. and Tamera Coyne-Beasley.
▪ James Willis “Will” Benson of Fike High School in Wilson. Will is vice president of the Student Government Association, president of the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society and a senior leader of the YMCA Young Leaders Program.
Will is also captain of the boys’ varsity soccer, tennis and swimming teams and helped organize a 5K to benefit the deaf community. Will is the son of Scott and Paula Benson.
▪ Jordan Bermudez of Jordan High School in Durham. Jordan serves on student government as the diversity and recruitment chair.
Jordan is also captain of the varsity field hockey team and a volunteer assistant counselor with Camp Kaleidoscope at Duke Children’s Hospital, working closely with children suffering from chronic and terminal illnesses. Jordan is the daughter of Jacqueline Looney.
▪ Olivia Dunn of D.H. Conley High School in Greenville. Olivia is president of the National Spanish Honor Society and serves as news editor, sports editor and photographer for her school newspaper.
Olivia is also a Distinguished Young Woman of North Carolina and started the nonprofit organization “Kidney for Coach” to help her basketball coach find a transplant match. Olivia is the daughter of Vernon and Carolyn Dunn.
▪ Elizabeth “Elia” Essen of Woods Charter School in Chapel Hill. Elia is vice president of student council and co-president of the prom committee and has won awards for her scientific research.
Elia is also an accomplished dancer and has played multiple lead roles in Barriskill Dance Theatre School’s production of The Nutcracker. Elia is the daughter of Jeff Essen and Elizabeth Foley of Pittsboro.
▪ Meghana Ganapathiraju of Green Hope High School in Cary. Meghana coaches a Math Olympiad team, volunteers with several clubs and organizations and has helped raise money for several social causes.
Meghana is the daughter of Saraswati Kumar and Kowsayla Devi Ganapathiraju.
▪ Margaret Hassel of East Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill. Margaret is the co-president of Students for Academic Integrity and Leadership and co-captain of the Ethics Bowl.
Margaret also serves as co-editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and founded a program that donates books to elementary school students. She is the daughter of Bryan and Emily Hassel.
▪ Elizabeth Reaves Houston of Triton High School in Erwin. Reaves is an award-winning peer tutor, president of the Interact Club and executive treasurer in the Student Government Association.
She also volunteers with SAFE of Harnett County, helping raise money for survivors of domestic violence. Reaves is the daughter of Keith and Paige Houston of Dunn.
▪ Robert “Rob” Jarrell of High Point Central High School in High Point. Rob served as freshman, sophomore and junior class president before being elected student body president for his senior year.
He also tutors students, volunteers with area nonprofits, and runs his own chauffeur business with an old limousine he bought himself.
Rob is the son of Cynthia and Thomas Jarrell Jr.
▪ Pooja Joshi of Raleigh Charter School in Raleigh.
Pooja is captain of the Science Olympiad team, serves on the Honor Council and is working on research projects at both Duke University and East Carolina University.
Pooja also performs regionally with a traveling Indian dance team. Pooja is the daughter of Dhanesh and Shivangi Joshi of Cary.
▪ Colby Kirkpatrick of Rocky Mount Academy in Rocky Mount. Colby is student body president and chair of the STARS Tutoring Program.
Colby’s interest in journalism inspired him to create the Media Office, designing a curriculum and launching Rocky Mount Academy’s weekly newspaper and website.
Colby is the son of James Kirkpatrick and April Livermon.
▪ Melanie Langness of West Johnston High School in Benson. Melanie is editor-in-chief of the online newspaper Scratchpost, serves in student government and is a member of the Science Olympiad.
Melanie is also a member of national dance honor society Nu Delta Alpha. She is the daughter of Joshua and Brandie Langness.
▪ Sarah McAdon of Northern High School in Durham.
Sarah is senior class vice president and a member of Goals for Girls, a charity that helps connect girls around the world to address social and health issues through the game of soccer.
Sarah also plays on Northern’s varsity soccer team and for the Triangle United Soccer Association. Sarah is the daughter of Paul and Joann McAdon.
▪ Catherine Mackenzie Nelsen of Watauga High School in Boone. Mackenzie is president of the National Honor Society and captain of the girls’ varsity soccer team.
Mackenzie is also a standout musician; twice she has been selected to the North Carolina All-State Orchestra. She is the daughter of Patricia and William Nelsen III.