2021 Morehead-Cain Scholars from RJ Reynolds


Photos provided by David Nicholson and Kate Quadland.

Thomas Hunter, Staff Writer

The Morehead-Cain Scholarship is the longest lasting and first merit based scholarship established in the United States, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It grants a varying amount of students a full scholarship including tuition costs, room and board, textbook costs and more. 

At RJR this past year, two students have been awarded this prestigious award: Kate Quadland and David Nicholson. These two have been selected for this scholarship program due to their high level of academic and extracurricular success, as well as their remarkable character. 

To be able to achieve this scholarship, students must separate themselves from others and strive for excellence. 

Photo of Kate Quadland taken by Clare Quadland, CQ Photography.

I believe that my role as the business manager of RJR A Cappella set me apart from other candidates,” Quadland said. “My position was full of responsibilities that students do not typically handle, as well as the fact that I had a large hand in organizing our Jam fundraiser! Being an A Cappella business manager is unique so I think it catches their eyes!” 

The Morehead-Cain Scholarship program is also unique because it does not gauge students merely on their academic and intellectual prowess. It rewards students who possess qualities that go beyond the classroom and those who are able to use these qualities to their advantage.

“I wasn’t among the most intelligent candidates that applied for the Morehead-Cain,” Nicholson said. “The Morehead-Cain evaluates applicants based on not only their intellect, but also their leadership capabilities, physical vigor and character. I believe it was in these last three categories that I was able to distinguish myself. I’m grateful to have had many unique opportunities in my life that have shaped my identity and set me apart. I have struggled with my identity for most of my life but one of the most important decisions I have made was to embrace my differences rather than try to escape them.” 

Although the Morehead-Cain Scholarship rewards students with high levels of individual success, no one can do it alone. Throughout high school students who achieve these scholarships always have teachers in mind who have played a big role in their personal development. 

“Even though he was an elective teacher, Mr. Martinez played a large role in my educational success,” Quadland said. “The responsibilities that he gave me required me to learn how to time manage and because of him and that, I have been able to succeed in school, as well as other activities!” 

What makes these teacher-student relationships so special is the extra effort from the teacher to create a bond with the student, and have meaningful conversations that will leave a lasting impact on the student. For Nicholson, this was a clear choice.

Photo of David Nicholson taken by Hazel Kuehn.

“Mr. Bennett, who was my AP Biology teacher at the Career Center,” Nicholson said. “I appreciate his dedication to his students and ability to create genuine connections in a classroom setting. His course was also one of the most strenuous I’ve ever taken and beyond an understanding of biology, it taught me things about my work ethic that I will always appreciate.” 

Even though the events that happen within the classroom are very important for the growth of a student, the extracurriculars that he or she is a part of can arguably have an even greater impact on their lives. 

“The extracurriculars that I have been a part of have contributed greatly to both who I am and my successes,” Quadland said. “Of course, A Cappella gave me the most amazing leadership opportunities but my devotion to many RJR sports teams have resulted in me growing as a person. I have learned so much from my teammates and coaches over the years which have definitely contributed to my successes.” 

Students learn in the classroom and in the extracurriculars they are a part of in different ways and that different style of growth that happens in extracurriculars is crucial for the development of a Morehead-Cain Scholar. 

“I’m lucky to have had the chance to learn many things through my formal education,” Quadland said. “The knowledge I’ve gained inside the classroom, however, will never compare to what I have learned outside. I don’t consider what are known formally as “extracurriculars” to be necessary for an ideal education. What I do believe is that every person should find things that they are passionate about and follow these passions. Conversely, students should also seek understanding of new things that may seem uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Regardless of the interest, it is imperative that these pursuits are followed with hard work and determination, keeping clear goals and intent.” 

Naturally, being a Morehead-Cain scholar is not entirely about what a student has done in the past to achieve the scholarship. What the student plans to do with their education and personal growth through their college experience is also important. 

“I am extremely excited to meet so many new people in college, as well as get involved in new activities and groups,” Quadland said. “I have already started communicating with so many UNC students and it makes me more excited every day!”

“I have the opportunity to start fresh and build my identity according to the decisions I make,” Nicholson said. “I look forward to personal growth and ever-broadening my perspective.” 

Morehead-Cain scholars leave a lasting impact on the environment they come from and influence the students who will come after them to achieve greatness as they have done themselves. Determined students will listen to their advice with open ears and take to heart. 

“I think that it is easy to try and do it all. However, doing it all does not make someone happy,” Quadland said. “So to all current students or new RJR students, pursue those sports or activities that really make you excited and work to improve whatever you are a part of so that the next student to experience it is able to be just as inspired or happy as you were.” 

“Know the value of your work,” Nicholson said. “Your efforts will be a reflection of your own self worth. Invest your time into things that will build you up. Believe in your potential yet love who you are now. You will learn the most through pain, struggles and mistakes.

Achieving the Morehead-Cain Scholarship is no easy feat. It takes years of character and academic development and high levels of success in a wide variety of ranges. Most importantly, it takes a unique aspect that will be different for every applicant. Something different that you can show off and make known to the world and achieve this prestigious scholarship.