For Anna Cathryn Perry, her journey as a newly minted Morehead-Cain Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill begins swiftly and far away from the imposing edifices and manicured lawns of the much-photographed campus.
This summer, she will be going to Alaska with 15 other Morehead scholars for an immersive wilderness adventure. Anna Cathryn --known as “AC" around school -- has never been to Alaska and has only a little idea of what to expect, but she's ready.
“You cook your own food outdoors, learn some mountaineering," she said. “I'm excited."
It's her first step on a four-year itinerary as part of the Morehead-Cain Class of 2026, which is comprised of 75 top scholars: 41 from North Carolina, 34 from other states, and 10 from other countries, including India, South Sudan, and Vietnam. Anna Cathryn is the only one from Virginia. The highly competitive program fully funds four years of study at UNC-Chapel Hill and provides an abundance of extras--access to a network of peers and mentors, access to internships and summer experiences like the one in Alaska, and international travel. After graduation, many in the program go on to win further prestigious scholarships, like the Rhodes to Oxford University in England.
Anna Cathryn will be joining another recent NA grad in the Morehead-Cain program, Michael Hostutler II '20. Prior to that, Stuart Luter '16, who now works at Well, a digital health start-up in Boston, earned the scholarship.
“Earning the Morehead-Cain Scholarship, particularly as an out-of-state student, is an extraordinary honor," Headmaster Dennis Manning said. “We are so proud of Anna Cathryn for all she has accomplished. She participates avidly in all aspects of school life. She's a student who engages in class, pushes projects forward as a Global Affairs Fellow, and competes fiercely as a three-sport athlete. I know she will be an outstanding contributor to her Morehead class, in the same way she has contributed as a Bulldog -- with commitment and a focus on excellence."
Anna Cathryn was captain of the varsity girls tennis team, a six-year member of the junior varsity and varsity swim team, and a varsity girls lacrosse goalie. Somehow, she also found time to serve as manager of the varsity girls soccer team. As a member of the Global Affairs Fellows of the Batten Leadership Program, she learned about the many difficulties for indigenous people in Peru.
This spring, she ran a fundraiser for Awamaki (awamaki.org), a cooperative that provides access to markets for women weavers in rural villages, many in remote parts of Peru. The Global Affairs Fellows organized a fundraiser by purchasing woven items from Awamaki and selling them ahead of Mother's Day; all profits will be sent to Awamaki. “She was the driving force in that fundraiser," said Dr. Natasha Naujoks, co-director of the Global Affairs Fellows and Associate Director of the Batten Leadership Program.
The Morehead-Cain emphasizes that it helps students understand their potential and explore their passions. That aspect, in particular, appeals to Anna Cathryn. “I am most excited about the sense that I can explore what interests me." Right now, she plans to pursue political science with some aspect of international relations in the mix.
She's also enthusiastic about aspects of the Morehead-Cain experience that seem similar to NA, such as a strong advising system, a small community within the much larger college community of just under 20,000 undergraduates, and an emphasis on important principles like honor. “It is a community that values what I do, integrity," she said, “and I will have people who believe in me."