Washington HS & BCCC student awarded UNC-CH’s full-ride Morehead-Cain Scholarship
Beaufort County Community College congratulates Grace Berry on becoming a Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The full-ride scholarship is one of the most prestigious in North Carolina. Berry will graduate this May from Washington High School, and she took seven classes for free at BCCC during her junior and senior years as a Career and College Promise student. She is joined by BCCC and Beaufort County Early College High School student Savannah O’Brien.
The Morehead-Cain Foundation is home to the first merit scholarship program in the United States. Berry joins 69 other recipients, and she also joins previous recipients such as Governor Roy Cooper, and U.S. Congressmen Jim Cooper and David Price. Through the Morehead-Cain Discovery Fund, scholars can also explore their interests at no expense to them.
Selection criteria for the Morehead-Cain are leadership, moral force of character, academic achievement, and physical vigor. Morehead-Cain recipients are chosen solely on the basis of merit and accomplishment.
Berry plans to major in public policy in order to create more educational equity, and the university’s esteemed political science program drew her in. “I’ve been through the public school system; I’ve done dual-enrollment,” she said. “It has made me see the amazing things with public education and community colleges, but also observed what could be fixed. People have helped me at my high school and Beaufort, and I want to give back the people and the system that got me where I am.”
“Educational equity means that when I look around, I know that every student surrounding me is going to get the same education–whether they are here in Washington or in Raleigh–and the same opportunities, which typically doesn’t happen. I’ve been so lucky to have amazing people behind me, but I know that’s not the same in this county, for the people sitting next to me, for the kids I grew up with, or for people in other states or around the world.” Her parents, both professors and UNC graduates, have emphasized the importance of education and how far it can get a person.
“It’s given me time to explore myself,” she said. She took “Music Appreciation” with Dr. Stacey Russell, and she was hooked on online college classes. “I fell in love with the professor, and I absolutely loved the class. I realized that I needed to take more of these classes the next year, because this is a platform of learning for me that works really well.”
She said that taking online college classes were “so different from high school, but also it gave me room to pace myself, and to hold myself accountable for getting this work done.”
Berry packed her senior year with Beaufort classes. Cheerleading has been an integral part of her life since middle school. The leadership skills she gained from cheer led to her election as student body president during her senior year of high school. Online classes meant that she could focus on these extra-curricular activities and build her personal schedule around them.
“With Beaufort, what you put into it is what you get out of it,” she said. “That’s been perfect for me. I don’t know what I would do if I had to be at the high school from 8:00-3:00 every day. At some point in high school, you run out of electives to take, and Beaufort was this perfect golden path, so we could take “American Government” or “Sociology”. For so many kids at Washington High School, it’s allowed them to continue working, playing multiple sports, or really focus on getting their associate’s degree.”
The Morehead-Cain Scholarship covers all expenses for four years of undergraduate study at UNC–Chapel Hill. It offers summer enrichment experiences across four summers. The focus this summer is outdoor leadership and, depending on health restrictions, Berry will join other incoming scholars on a backpacking trip in North Cascades National Park in Washington state. While she has traveled all over the country, she said, “It’s going to be a huge step out of my comfort zone, being in the wilderness for 20 days.” She chose the trip because of it is focused on outdoor cooking and wilderness first aid.
“I’ve had an absolutely amazing high school experience,” summarized Berry. “I’ve had amazing teachers, mentors and coaches at Washington High School. I’ve had amazing counselors at Beaufort, and the most amazing, insanely intelligent professors who have really put time into me and who I am. There is gold at the end of the rainbow. This is a hard time for all of us, but there is only the future, and things will get better, but we have to stay positive and manifest that.”
BCCC wishes Grace the best in her future endeavors and congratulates her for her well-deserved accomplishment.