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Piedmont High School senior is Morehead-Cain recipient

Piedmont High School guidance counselor Stacey Butera, at right, looks over freshman classes offered at UNC-Chapel Hill with Piedmont High School senior Megan Thomas, 18, a Morehead-Cain Scholarship recipient.

Getting the coveted Morehead-Cain Scholarship is an honor few high school students realize. This year, a Piedmont High School graduate, 18-year-old Megan Thomas, realized that dream.
   
“I really didn’t have any expectations when I came home from being interviewed by the selection committee,” she said. “I knew I wanted to go to Chapel Hill regardless, so I just tried not to expect anything. When I did get my email, I was so excited.”

When a student gets a Morehead-Cain Scholarship, he or she gets a full ride to UNC-Chapel Hill, meaning the total amount of the scholarship over a four-year period is $96,000. It covers all normal expenses including: tuition, student fees, housing, meals, laundry, books, supplies, travels, and other miscellaneous expenses.
   
Megan, who will graduate from Piedmont High Monday, (June 14, 2010), plans to double major in biology and psychology, with a minor in history. “I just figure while I’m in college, I might as well make the most of it and study all my different interests while I have the opportunity to do that.”

Six-year veteran guidance counselor Stacey Butera works closely with seniors at Piedmont, helping them apply for colleges and scholarships. “The requirements for the Morehead are that the student has to have good grades, be at the top of his or her class and have good SAT scores. Then they look at what kind of activities the student has been involved in both in and outside the school. What kind of leadership has the student participated in or has the potential to develop.”

Butera said she never doubted Megan would become a Morehead scholar.
“This is a very competitive and very prestigious scholarship,” she said. “I really felt like this was something Megan really, truly worked for. It was a goal of hers and any time she has a goal, she goes for it with 110 percent. I had no doubt this would be the same situation for her.”
    
Megan has been very involved during her high school career. She has been a cheerleader at Piedmont High School for four years. She is also the Student Government president, the National Honor Society president and a senior class officer. She has been involved in numerous community service projects, is a tutor at Unionville Elementary, and coaches a group of 4-year-old cheerleaders.

Megan is no stranger to public service. This past October, she organized and planned an Autism Awareness Campaign at her school to raise awareness and funds for the Autism Foundation. She was also involved in her school’s student government rally that raised more than $11,000 for St. Jude’s Hospital.

She has also been part of Soles for Souls, which raises money for children in third-world nations. She helped provide a Christmas party for senior citizens at local nursing home. For the past two years, Megan has been a volunteer Presbyterian Hospital in Matthews.
    
Megan said she is very excited about the fully funded, four-year Summer Enrichment Program (valued at $5,000 per summer) offered by the Morehead. This summer she will be in an outdoor leadership program, possibly kayaking in Alaska.

“They take a group into the wilderness from three weeks to one month, and we learn survival skills. There will be no showers; no hotels. We’ll be setting up camps; cooking for ourselves. It will be quite an experience.”

Her 2011 summer program will involve public service. “I definitely want to do something with children, whether it’s teaching in a school somewhere, or working in an orphanage. I’ve done a lot of community service locally with children, tutoring and things like that. I really enjoy that.”

Her third summer enrichment program (in 2012) will involve doing research in an area for which she is interested, while her fourth and final summer (in 2013) will be an internship. “It will also tie into my career field so if I decide to do medical research, I would shadow someone who does that already. They try to let you shadow someone who is very prestigious in that field so you can get the best experience possible.”

As for advice to other high school students attempting to get scholarships, Megan says, “Stay focused on your personal goals, whether that might be to go to a specific school or just applying for a scholarship. Always do things that you care about, that you feel passionate about, things that really mean something to you; not just for the purpose of putting it on your resume. And enjoy high school. They are some of the best years that you’ll never get back.”

Megan is the daughter of Mike and Stephanie Thomas of Unionville and has one brother, Brandon Thomas, 20, a student at Clemson University.
   
It’s been five years since a UCPS student was named a Morehead-Cain Scholar. The last was Danielle Allen, a 2005 graduate of Monroe High School.
 

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Jun 11, 2010 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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