Taking his seat on the wall
All it took was sitting on a stone wall to confirm for Jack Mitzell that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was where his future lay.
He was on the UNC campus having just finished his whirlwind weekend as a finalist for the prestigious Morehead-Cain Scholarship. One of the sessions featured a former scholar, now in his 40s. The man said every time he returns to Chapel Hill he either sits on a stone wall or watches the sun rise over campus.
Before heading for the airport, Mitzell said, “I bought a smoothie and went out and sat on stone wall. I watched the students cross the academic quad for about 20 minutes and I knew this was the place for me.”
A few days later, Mitzell ’12 (Westfield, Ind.) learned that he was Culver’s latest recipient of the scholarship. He is the 46th recipient overall and the first since Jennifer Sawicki in 2006. Culver has been associated with the Morehead-Cain program since 1963.
The scholarship process for Mitzell started almost as soon as he returned to Culver. All the initial paperwork had to be filed by Oct. 3. The field was narrowed to 15 percent of the applicants by mid-November. Out-of-state candidates did a Skype interview with a member of the committee, then the finalists (top seven percent) were selected. Those students were then brought to Chapel Hill for a weekend of interviews and a tour of campus.
At the end of the weekend, the committee told the finalists to expect an email on March 2 concerning its decision. “I had trouble concentrating,” Mitzell said of that week. When he did get the email, he could feel his face flush. As he logged on to check his status, the word “Congratulations” began to appear and “I started screaming. I ran down the hall to tell my counselor (Matt Behling, Battery A). I’m sure people still don’t know what was going on.”
The scholarship pays all expenses for four years of undergraduate study, including a laptop computer and four summer enrichment experiences. Fifty-three seniors are named Morehead Scholars from among 1,600 who are nominated or applied. Conferred solely on merit, Morehead selections are based on capacity to lead and motivate fellow students, scholastic ability, extracurricular attainments, moral force of character, and physical vigor.
“My head is still in the clouds,” Mitzell said. “I just feel so blessed.”
But Mitzell, who is a Batten Scholar at Culver, said he does believe he is prepared for the scholarship’s “Give You More” program. The Morehead is considered a journey, and Mitzell believes Culver has laid a solid foundation for him to begin. From his time in Woodcraft Camp through his four years at Culver Academies to serving as Regimental Commander in the fall, he knows this is a logical transition.
“I think I’m ready for the journey,” he said.
And in a few months, Mitzell will again take his seat on that stone wall.
By: Jan Garrison