Four Charlotte-area seniors named latest Morehead-Cain scholars

Four high school seniors from the Charlotte region will join 53 others from the world to study at UNC Chapel Hill over the next four years on the prestigious Morehead-Cain Scholarship.

Only one of the four local seniors is from Mecklenburg County and none are from high schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the state’s second-largest school district. Eleanor Teller, a senior at Charlotte Country Day, is the lone Mecklenburg senior to win a Morehead-Cain.

Many years, Mecklenburg rivals – or surpasses – Wake County in the number of Morehead-Cain scholars. Wake had five recipients among the latest list, though one is from Durham, but is set to graduate from Cary Academy in Cary.

Last year, four Mecklenburg students won Morehead-Cains.

“It is surprising that Mecklenburg County is represented by only one candidate,” said Bill Anderson, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group MeckEd and a former CMS administrator and Myers Park High principal.

“I’m puzzled about that. I don’t think the students in our community all of a sudden became less intelligent and aren’t as good a candidates as they have been. I remember many years there were two or three Moreheads from Myers Park alone.”

Selection officials with the scholarship couldn’t be reached.

The newest four scholars from the region are:

• Daverian Williams, Cabarrus/Kannapolis Early College High in Concord. He is the son of Stephan Anderson and Sandy Williams of Harrisburg.

• Sandy Alkoutami, St. Stephens High in Hickory. She is the daughter of Ghassan and Rana Alkoutami.

• David Allen Jr., Shelby High in Shelby. He is the son of Amy and David Allen Sr.

• Eleanor Teller, Charlotte Country Day in Charlotte. She’s the daughter of Robert and Deidre Teller.

Founded in 1945, the Morehead-Cain is the first – and among the most competitive – merit scholarship program in the country, paying all expenses for four years of undergraduate study in Chapel Hill. Scholars are provided four summer enrichment opportunities.

The value: about $107,500 for four years for in-state students; about $195,000 for out-of-staters.

The recipients were chose through a nomination and interview process that began last fall. Their selection was based on leadership, academic achievement, moral force of character and physical vigor. The winners are typically chosen not on financial need, but merit and accomplishment.

Of the 57 new scholars, 31 are from North Carolina and 16 from 11 other states. Four are from England; one each from Canada, Brazil, Italy, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam.

More than 220 Morehead-Cain scholars currently are studying in Chapel Hill. The university’s recently elected student body president, senior class president and student attorney general are all Morehead-Cains.

Thirty of UNC’s 33 Rhodes Scholars have been Morehead-Cains.