I arrived early to dinner on Saturday night, walking in with about ten other scholars. The tables were mostly empty, so my friends and I could have stuck together. But we knew that was not what the weekend was for.
We split off in groups of 2 or 3, sitting at different tables around the room, and waited for the alumni to show up. I ended up sitting with one other student from my class year, a group of five friends from the class of 1992, one 1972 scholar, and his wife.
As the group of 1992 grads reconnected, my classmate (Rhea) and I talked to the 1972 scholar and his wife. We heard about their many career transitions and years of experience in different fields from consulting and banking to bioinformatics and ministry. The alumus’ wife also attended UNC, and now runs a bioinformatics research center. She immediately connected with Rhea, who is working towards a major in biostatistics. She put us both in contact with the director of her organization’s internship program and encouraged us to apply.
This conversation reminded us that Morehead connections come not just from the Morehead-Cain community itself, but from everyone who knows about the program and works with its graduates.
As dinner went on, the entire table joined in a single conversation about the summer experience program and the ways it has changed over the years. We heard about people’s experiences working in police departments across the country, and learned that it was possible 25 years ago to not know everyone in one’s own scholar class.
It was interesting to hear about the history of the scholarship, and it reminded me how much fun and adventure comes along with the scholarship. We often discuss the academic and professional opportunities we find through the Morehead-Cain experience, but the skills we gain from traveling and working in diverse settings are also invaluable.
While the entire Alumni Forum offered opportunities to meet older scholars, I found this dinner to be the best at encouraging long conversation and shared reflection on the Morehead-Cain and UNC experience. As we waited to hear the governor speak and Mipso perform, a group of people who randomly chose to sit at the same table found connection and inspiration in one another’s stories.
Francie Sentilles is a sophomore scholar from Memphis, Tennessee. She is applying to the Environmental Health Science major, with hopes to double major in Anthropology with a minor is Hispanic Studies. Among her involvements on campus, she works as a research assistant in the UNC Adult Asthma Program and serves as the Family Coordinator for Dive In: Chapel Hill.