Open Letter to Morehead-Cain Recipients—from Wil Oxford ’83
Dear Morehead-Cain Recipients,
Congratulations on a tremendous honor. I know many of you now face a big decision. I’d like to give you some background about me and my Morehead-Cain experiences in the hope that it may help you.
I’m the founder and CEO of a startup in Austin, Texas, called Bra-Ket Science. Our mission is to revolutionize the field of quantum computing by building the very first room-temperature quantum devices on standard “garden-variety” silicon chips. This is actually my fourth startup, after fourteen years working at Apple.
I was a Morehead-Cain Scholar (class of 1983) at Carolina and turned down full scholarships to both MIT and Duke. The scholarships I’d been offered at other schools were roughly equivalent to the Morehead-Cain in monetary terms. But what impressed me most about the Morehead-Cain was the sense of how deep and yet still “well-rounded” it was—much more so than any of the other opportunities I was so fortunate to be offered.
As it turned out, my father (who attended Yale) was somewhat disappointed at first that I wasn’t following in his and his father’s footsteps. But his doubts were overturned before I even set foot in Chapel Hill. I came back from my first Summer Enrichment experience (Outward Bound in New Mexico) having learned some very important life lessons—ones he had unsuccessfully tried to teach me over the preceding years. He became and remained a stalwart supporter of Carolina over many decades.
To me, the Morehead-Cain is much more than a scholarship program. The entire network represents an amazingly diverse and highly extraordinary “extended family” to me. I still keep in regular touch with the two guys with whom I shared a room at the Carolina Inn on Final Selection Weekend all those decades ago. Along with many other alumni across the world, I count them as some of my dearest friends. This family, should you choose to become a part of it, will encourage, sustain, and—most importantly—challenge you as you move forward in your life, no matter where you go or what you choose to do.
I’m certain you’ll be successful in any future direction that you decide to take. But the Morehead-Cain will be a catalyst in your life, the importance of which simply cannot be enumerated at this point in time. In my personal experience, the program represents a “cause” with ambitions and objectives that transcend more mundane political and personal agendas. Its deceptively simple goal is to make the world a better place, one extraordinary life at a time. I’d love to see you become part of “my family” and watch as your contributions to all of our lives evolve and grow over the years.
Wil Oxford ’83
Wil wrote this letter last year to a specific recipient, but he agreed to share these sentiments with all Morehead-Cain recipients more broadly, in the hopes that reading about his experiences might be meaningful to you.