Luke Buxton ’21 at Kenan Memorial Stadium during the first home football game of the season. The crowd is blurred behind him.

Luke Buxton ’21

What is life like at Carolina as a Morehead-Cain Scholar?

This week we sat down with current scholar Luke Buxton ’21, a junior double majoring in journalism in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media and an interdisciplinary study he created entitled “Sports Media and Social Change.” Luke talked about life as a scholar, what it was like to apply, and why sleeping in may be a bad idea.

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of Carolina life for you?

A: The most challenging thing about Carolina was finding my place. I feel like there’s an expectation coming to college that you have to rule the world or be the best in order to get involved and find your niche. You feel like you need to rush into finding the “what” that will make you “you.” I think the great thing about college is being able to really find out who you are. Through my classes, projects, teachers, and friends, I feel like I have a better sense of my values, interests, and passions.

Q: How would you say the Morehead-Cain has impacted that quest?

A: My first summer trip with the scholarship was through NOLS, and that experience made me more mature. Living in the woods for 30 days as an 18-year-old really made me realize that my life was about to change.

The Program is impactful because I get to learn from so many different people, including other scholars. I have friends who’re studying science, math, fashion design, and more. It’s interesting to learn from every person you meet. I go to my advisors often to talk about schedules, internships, and any ideas I need help sorting through.

My past three summers were spent living in the woods, living in Zimbabwe working for a non-profit, and working a corporate job in Los Angeles. I think each time I’ve learned something different about myself and found three better versions of myself. I have reached out to alumni when I’ve been in different locations to talk about the future, too. The Foundation touches on everything—campus resources, supportive staff, summer opportunities, and connections with a larger network of Tar Heels around the world.

Q: When you think back to your time as a senior in high school, applying to Carolina and to the scholarship, is there anything you wish you had known then that you know now?

A: When I originally thought about the Morehead-Cain, I thought you had to run a business since age 13 or be this inconceivable person to get the scholarship. It wasn’t until I applied and met the people here that I realized it’s not that scary of a process. Being yourself, having focus, and being driven in what you want goes a long way. If you have drive and passion, that’s what matters. You don’t have to be superman or superwoman to get through the door.

Q: What about Carolina feels like home?

A: Wow—it really does feel like home. I think it’s the size. It’s a tight-knit group. I was leaving the quad just now and I ran into a professor I had a class with last semester. When I was working in L.A., I would be stopped by people who would comment on my Carolina shirt and tell me they went here. There is something that binds us. . . maybe it’s the water. People form connections over shared experiences and Tar Heels want to help other Tar Heels succeed.

Q: When you referenced the water, you specifically mean the Old Well water, right?

A: Oh, absolutely. I’ve never gotten a 4.0, but I think it’s helped me in so many other ways. . . that lucky water.

Q: What is your biggest regret from your time at UNC?

A: Not using all the resources available to me. There are so many on this campus! There was a Morehead-Cain Alumni Speaker Series where Brian Strong ’00 came to visit from FOX Sports. Then I went to a UNC Sports Summit. From those two events, I found my internship. That’s the great thing about Carolina. Suddenly, it’s a Thursday at 4:00 p.m. and you’re tired so you have to decide between taking a break from your day at home or spending the break at a forum or speaker series or a pit event. There’s so much opportunity and you never know what will come from it. If I didn’t go to that talk on a Saturday morning, I wouldn’t have gotten that internship. I could’ve slept in that day, but look what happened when I did. I kick myself for all the other times I did sleep in.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus and why does it mean something to you?

A: The Bell Tower means the most to me. I remember one time when it snowed my freshman year. I walked by the Bell Tower late one night and there was a purple sky in the background. No one was around and it was completely quiet. I just sat there for a little while that night. It’s such a cool spot as the centerpiece of our campus, and it reminds me how lucky we are to be able to claim a campus that is this beautiful.