Students outside of North Carolina, Canada or the United Kingdom must attend a nomination school or affiliate program to be considered for the Morehead-Cain Scholarship and be nominated by that school. This year, Kristin Larsen, Director of College Counseling, nominated two students: Casanova and Abby McGehee ’21. McGehee was a Semifinalist and interviewed but was not named a Finalist.
“It is awesome that we, as a school, had two Semifinalists, and one became a Finalist,” Larsen said. “Being a Morehead-Cain Scholar means that Paloma was selected from an extremely competitive pool of talented students and will have four years and four summers fully funded while attending UNC-Chapel Hill. To me, the best part of being a Scholar is the lifetime connection she will have with other past and future Morehead-Cains.”
Casanova has many great college options in the mix and has until mid-April to make a Morehead-Cain commitment. “I’m still considering all my options, but I know how wonderful UNC-Chapel Hill would be,” she said. “I’m so deeply honored to be selected as a Morehead-Cain Scholar. Through this process, I have met extraordinary peers and mentors who inspire me as leaders, public servants, innovators, and as overall impassioned people, and I thank everyone who has supported me along the way. I couldn’t be more grateful for this amazing opportunity and the chance to be a Morehead.”
Casanova has immersed herself in the FWCD experience since Middle School. As an FWCD Ambassador since fifth grade, she has supported the Admission Office and prospective students as they visit and learn more about the Country Day experience. Her passion for the arts is evident in her commitment to ballet and her performances in multiple school plays and musicals. She also earned an Honorable Mention in the Stage West Neighborhood Playwriting Festival.
In high school, Casanova is a genuine leader that others look up to. She is committed to the Student Council and making a difference in the lives of her peers. This year, especially, as she has served as Student Body President, Casanova has worked hard to foster connection and meaningful experiences for the entire Upper School in a time when wearing masks and social distancing are necessary. One of the most impactful experiences has been the return of Upper School Announcements. She also leads by example as a Link Crew Leader, helping freshman students navigate their first year of high school, and TEAM Service President, organizing school-wide and grade-level community service events and projects.
A member of FWCD’s chapter of Cum Laude since she was a junior, Casanova earned National Hispanic Scholar recognition in the fall from the National Hispanic Recognition Program. As a junior, she was awarded the Harvard Prize Book Award, given to the junior who exemplifies excellence in high character and scholars, and the Outstanding Undergraduate Award, given to an undergraduate with a passion and achievement in the arts.
“Paloma is a leader, and her thoughtfulness, dedication, and measured approach have served the School especially well this year. Meeting her prior to my arrival and regularly since, it has remained clear that she thinks about new ways to engage the student body and bring the community together,” said Alexis Stern, Head of Upper School. “She helps out whenever she can. As her teacher, I also have seen how much she enjoys learning and being a student and how she connects with others as an academic. She’s just awesome.”
The Morehead-Cain Scholarship covers all expenses for four years of undergraduate study at UNC-Chapel Hill. It also features a distinctive program of summer enrichment experiences designed to stretch students beyond their comfort zones. Scholars learn and grow throughout their four summers. They have opportunities to complete an outdoor leadership course, work in teams on problems facing cities throughout North America, work with organizations worldwide, and gain professional experience that helps launch their careers.
The Summer Enrichment Program is complemented by the Morehead-Cain Discovery Fund. Scholars are encouraged to deeply explore their interests, whether those involve studying under celebrated artists, attending leadership retreats, or obtaining wilderness first responder certification. From researching food and agriculture industries in Iceland to examining the impact of innovation and entrepreneurship throughout New Orleans in the decade following Hurricane Katrina, Morehead-Cain Scholars have the resources to pursue educational opportunities wherever they may find them.
Selection criteria for the Morehead-Cain are leadership, moral force of character, academic achievement, and physical vigor. Only a handful of Morehead-Cain recipients are selected, solely on the basis of merit and accomplishment, from among the thousands of students who apply.
Since 2000, 14 Morehead-Cain Scholars have won Rhodes Scholarships to England’s Oxford University, one of the world’s most competitive and prestigious awards for graduate study. Since the first Morehead Scholars graduated from Carolina in 1957, 31 of UNC-Chapel Hill’s 34 Rhodes Scholars have been Morehead-Cain Scholars. Morehead-Cains have also received numerous other scholarships that have taken them across the country and around the world to further their academic goals and achievements.
FWCD’s last Morehead-Cain Scholar was Morgan Pergande ’13. He currently works for Insight Sourcing Group, an Atlanta-based boutique consulting firm focused on strategic sourcing and procurement-related services, as an associate.