A Discovery Weekend message from the Griatitude Coffee Co. team on pursuing self-discovery through the Morehead-Cain, ft. Ria Patel ’25, Sarah Chocron ’25, and Sasha Surkin (UNC–Chapel Hill ’25, Cato Merit Scholar)
Written by Sarah Chocron ’25 in collaboration with Ria Patel ’25, co-founders of Griatitude Coffee Co. and members of the Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team
When I envisioned my life as a Morehead-Cain Scholar a year ago, the last thing I ever expected was to be the co-founder of a pop-up coffee shop.
The story of Griatitude Coffee Co. began when I proposed to Ria Patel ’25 to monetize her incredible talent for making drinks. She’d also had conversations with our classmate Sasha Surkin (UNC–Chapel Hill ’25 and Wayland H. Cato, Jr. Merit Scholar through UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Assured Admission Program) about a potential collaboration. With Sasha’s entrepreneurial, coffee-loving spirit, we saw a dream team in the works.
“When I approached Ria about joining forces to create a pioneering social coffee shop on campus, I knew that Griatitude would blossom into an amazing thing,” Sasha said.
A love for serving others has always been at the core of Ria’s identity as a barista. That perspective is a driving force in our business decisions. The three of us embarked on an endeavor to make affordable beverages of all kinds for the caffeine-addicted student population at the University in fall 2021, and to support nonprofits and charities with a portion of the proceeds.
For Ria, supporting organizations that facilitate mental health and wellness is a priority. As one example, through Sasha’s suggestion Griatitude has donated to IDONTMIND, an awareness campaign that promotes vulnerable conversation around mental illness.
“It’s exciting to contribute to the mental health movement here on campus,” Ria said. In high school, the scholar founded INSPIre, an organization focused on adolescent mental health and well-being.
Although my venture in the coffee-business world was unexpected, my time in the Morehead-Cain Program has shown me the power of self-discovery in leading you to places where you might never imagine yourself.
To the scholarship recipients coming to Carolina for Discovery Weekend: my hope is that you’ll be able to envision yourself in unimaginable places, whether that’s in the mountain peaks you’ll climb on your Outdoor Leadership summer, biking across the country to raise awareness about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or opening up your own business.
And we know, we know—you are just dying to know when you’ll have an opportunity to sample a Griatitude specialty drink. Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered! You can visit us during Discovery Weekend on Monday, March 7, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., in the Morehead-Cain Foundation. More information is available on the Socio platform.
We’ll share some of our signature beverages, free of charge. We look forward to talking with you about the endeavors you might want to start during your time at UNC–Chapel Hill!
Scholar Media Team-produced series to highlight student ventures
In the weeks leading up to and following Discovery Weekend, we’re going to highlight the creative ways and places our scholars have pursued self-discovery—one of the Morehead-Cain Program’s cornerstone aspirations.
You’ll hear about Isabella Grandic ’25, founder of BoobBlurb, a card game-turned-social movement that encourages women to have open and positive conversations about their bodies, gender expression, and sexuality. You’ll learn about Mercy Adekola ’25, who’s a burgeoning entrepreneur as the founder of an acrylic nails business. Finally, we’ll introduce you to Scott Diekema ’19, co-founder of the Meantime Coffee Co., and his story to create a student-run, nonprofit coffee shop in the UNC Campus Y.
We hope these stories inspire you to discover and embrace the unexpected as you join our Morehead-Cain community.
—The Griatitude Team
Follow us on Instagram @griatitude_coffee_co.
More about Ria
Ria Patel of Collierville, Tennessee, covers the scholar beat on the Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team.
Ria graduated in spring 2021 from St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis. While in high school, the first-year scholar founded INSPIre, an organization focused on adolescent mental health and well-being, and she conducted independent research projects at the University of Memphis, studying working memory and learning conditions.
At Carolina, she plans to pursue a major in neuroscience with minors in business and chemistry, and continue her interest in mental health and wellness.
More about Sarah
Sarah Chocron ’25 of Wichita, Kansas, is a writer, freelance web designer, and musician. On the Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team, Sarah covers the selections and alumni beats, with a focus on tech.
The first-year scholar graduated in spring 2021 from Wichita Collegiate School, where she served as editor-in-chief of her school’s literary magazine and led programming and marketing for the robotics team. She plans to pursue a double major in information science and history with a minor in cognitive science.