Six Morehead-Cain Scholars confirmed to serve in UNC Undergraduate Student Government

News & Spotlights | April 27, 2021
From left to right, beginning with top row: Ethan Phillips ’23, Hunter Vaughan ’24, Ananya Tadikonda ’23, and Ray Palma ’23; second row: Greear Webb ’23, Kartik Tyagi ’23, and Alayna Powell ’22.

Six Morehead-Cain Scholars have been appointed and confirmed to serve in UNC Undergraduate Student Government (USG) beginning in the 2021–2022 academic year.

Five of the scholars will serve in the executive branch for Student Body President Lamar Richards’s administration.

Ethan Phillips ’23 has been selected as director of student wellness and safety. The scholar said the role will allow him to continue his “advocacy and passion for increasing access, quality, and equity in mental health services and resources” at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“By centering students and bringing new voices to the table, I hope we can create a more holistic vision for health, safety, and wellness—one that includes every Tar Heel,” said Ethan, a double major in health policy and management and public policy with a chemistry minor.

Hunter Vaughan ’24 has also been chosen for the directors’ council to serve as director of campus life and student experiences.

Hunter, who will rejoin the campus community next fall after a stop-out year, said he’s committed to bridging “gaps in social networks” within the student body. He plans to work on issues relating to accessibility and campus infrastructure, with a focus on facilities.

“I hope to help students of all backgrounds feel plugged in and to organize opportunities that make campus a place of connection and community as we safely transition back to in-person experiences,” Hunter said.

The scholar is a remote intern for Because Baseball, a nonprofit founded by Kemp Gouldin ’02 that aims to “build bridges of friendship” in the Middle East. Learn more about Hunter.

Ananya Tadikonda ’23 and Greear Webb ’23 will serve as senior advisors to incoming student body president Lamar Richards (UNC-Chapel Hill Class of 2023). Students elected Richards on February 23 with nearly 60 percent of the vote, according to the Daily Tar Heel.

Ananya, a double major in health policy and management and biology, said she looks forward to collaborating with Campus Health and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) through UNC Student Affairs to “make wellness a more equitable experience” at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“I hope to advance our administration’s commitment to making the Carolina experience more inclusive and equitable for all people who are part of the Carolina community,” said the scholar, a co-chair of the Student Safety and Wellness Committee, the Public Health Working Group, and the Campus Health Advisory Board in USG.

Ananya is pursuing minors in chemistry and social and economic justice. She also co-directs the American Mock World Health Organization through Carolina’s chapter (UNC AMWHO). The scholar is the 2021 recipient of the Student Undergraduate Teaching Award from the Office of the Chancellor.

In fall 2020, the scholar worked on a media database project to track COVID-19 transmission rates within U.S. nursing homes under the direction of Dr. Bethany Hedt-Gauthier ’99, a professor of global health and medicine and biostatistics at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Learn more about Ananya.

For Greear, implementing “student-centered policies” that expand opportunities for all students will drive his mission in the advisory role, saying he hopes to help “usher in a new wave of sustainable governing that revolves around the pillars of equity, transparency, and accountability.”

Greear is the co-founder of Young Americans Protest (YAP!) and the NC Town Hall. In January 2021, he received the inaugural John Lewis Student Activist Award from the Triangle Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee for his community organizing and activism work. Raleigh Magazine also named Greear Webb ’23 to the publication’s “20 in Their 20s” list for 2021.

Learn more about Greear.

Kartik Tyagi ’23 has been appointed undergraduate secretary. As the executive branch’s lead communications liaison, he said he’s energized to work on promoting and facilitating long-term growth, branding development, and transparency.

“Not only will this role enable me to serve as a voice, but to also more powerfully elevate the voices of others through consistent and clear messaging, continuous engagement, heightened visibility, and structured communications,” he said.

Since May 2020, Kartik has worked as an assistant coordinator with Harvard Medical School’s global COVID-19 Response Technical Support Group. The scholar is also an alumni policy ambassador with the National Academy Foundation and an alumni representative on the board of directors for the North Carolina chapter of HOSA-Future Health Professionals, a career and technical student organization.

A paper co-authored by Kartik and Dr. Hedt-Gauthier ’99 was published this semester in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet. The paper focuses on tracking COVID-19 antibodies in low-income and middle-income countries.

Earlier this spring, Kartik was accepted into the Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) program in the Department of Health Policy and Management within the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

In the legislative branch, Alayna Powell ’22 will lead the UNC-Chapel Hill Undergraduate Senate of USG as undergraduate senate speaker, overseeing the finance, rules and judiciary, and oversight and advocacy committees. This spring, Alayna was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the most prestigious academic honor society in the United States, along with 11 other Morehead-Cain Scholars.

With a “building outwards” mentality, Alayna said she will work to create positive change by catalyzing increased campus engagement.

“I hope we can be a direct source of advocacy, especially as all [remaining] students return to campus,” said the incoming speaker. Alayna is a double major in economics and public policy with a history minor.

Established in 1918, the Senate comprises undergraduate student senators elected from nine districts, proportionate to Carolina’s enrollment numbers, and seeks to maintain and review student code.

The UNC USG is composed of the Undergraduate Executive Branch, the Honor System through UNC Student Affairs, and the Undergraduate Senate.

Lastly, Ray Palma ’23 has been elected as president of the UNC Association of Student Governments (UNC ASG), the student-led, state-wide governance body for the around 240,000 students and 17 institutions within the UNC System.

In this role, Ray will serve as the student member on the UNC Board of Governors, representing the voice of students throughout the state in the planning, development, and governance of the UNC System.

As president, the business administration and public policy double major said he looks forward to “working closely with each institution, the UNC Board of Governors, and the North Carolina General Assembly to elevate the power of students and ensure an affordable, accessible, and robust higher education experience in North Carolina.”

UNC ASG consists of student delegates from each of the 16 public universities and the NC School of Science and Mathematics, who collaborate to ensure the affordability, accessibility, and safety of the UNC System. Ray previously served as vice president of government outreach for UNC ASG.