‘Get ready to run’: Highlights from the first Discovery Weekend at Morehead-Cain, by Cate Miller ’25 of the Scholar Media Team

Blog | March 22, 2022
A group of students sitting on the grass cheer on the Tar Heels on television.
Recipients and their scholar hosts watched the Tar Heels defeat Duke men’s basketball on March 5, 2022, from the lawn of the Carolina Inn. (Photo by Leon Godwin)

“All of you better have your laces tied. Get ready to run,” says Steph Momanyi ’25, the energy in the room heightening as the buzzer narrows in. The air is filled with nervous tension.

We’re huddled together on the lawn of the historic Carolina Inn, enthralled by the screen under the tent. After a full day of meeting new, friendly faces, we’re ready to wind down to watch the game. What if we won?!

The arrival

Scholar Host Team 6 at registration in the Carolina Inn.

From the beginning of Discovery Weekend . . .

On a beautiful, warm, and sunny day, under a Carolina Blue sky, we greet the recipients with open arms and chat with alumni before heading out for campus tours.

It’s the first time we’re meeting the incoming cohort in person. Breaking the ice is natural. The recipients have been traveling all day, and there’s a sense of adventure among them.

The glimmer of the Carolina Inn’s crystal chandeliers and checkered tiles illuminate smiling eyes behind masked faces. I introduce recipients to my friends, and we share our favorite places to relax in Chapel Hill.

The tour

We head out to explore the sights and sounds of Carolina. We journey through the legends and traditions of Chapel Hill.

My classmates and I reminisce about when we first arrived at Carolina—the buildings we first took classes and studied in and the many memories we’ve already made throughout campus.

The trees are in full bloom. We stop to admire the vibrant pinks and greens of spring, in contrast to the pale brick of the South Building. The flag of the Old North State hangs between its ionic pillars.

We end up at the Morehead-Cain Foundation, adjacent to Coker Arboretum. We say goodbye to our recipients as they head in to learn about the Morehead-Cain Mentoring Program from alumni and scholars.

The game

Rameses sits in anticipation during the final moments of the game.

As the sun fell that evening, we travel back to the Inn for hors d’oeuvres and dinner. The tent is full of laughter. Scholars share with recipients stories of the moments that have helped us forge our own Morehead-Cain and Carolina stories.

We begin to watch the (unexpectedly) heart-pounding Carolina vs. Duke basketball game. After what was for many a long day of flights, sightseeing of Carolina’s landmarks, and conversations, there is still a sense of exhilaration in the tent.

Rushing Franklin

Little did our new friends know that one of the foremost traditions of being a Tar Heel was about to occur, imprinting them into Carolina history.

As the clock runs out, everyone has jumped out of their seats, voices booming, eyes glued and phones pointing to the screen. Tables and chairs are cleared from the walkway. Sirens start blaring on the street.

The buzzer screeches for the last time of the night. We won! 94–81. Carolina basketball has done it again.

Recipients cheer in victory for the Tar Heels.

Ann Smith, assistant director of scholar selection, is at the end of the lawn, opening a tent flap to the street. Recipients start dashing out, bolting down the brick steps.

Audio of recipients rushing Franklin Street:

I take off toward Columbia Street, sprinting with Layah and Mercy. We chant Tar Heel phrases and songs as the rush grows. The crowd of students congregating on Franklin Street expands rapidly. Everyone is running around, celebrating.

I spot Trinity and Lauryn, two recipients I’d connected with online before the weekend. “Welcome to Carolina, ladies!” I yell, hugging them. I meet up with more scholars, and we begin dancing, singing, and taking photos under the streetlights. We want to remember this moment forever.

Passing the torch

The game night, surrounded by new friends and old, highlighted what it’s like to call Carolina home. This is what makes UNC–Chapel Hill so magical: it’s not only the world-renowned education you receive and the professors and classmates you meet, but also the traditions you’ll experience when you become a Morehead-Cain.

We are in appreciation of those traditions, a tribute to those who have come before us—and it is an honor to think of passing the torch to the next generation. We strive to contribute our skills and talents to this community in the same ways others have done for us.

The Morehead-Cain is a program that gives us space to come as we are, speak with confidence, and support one another. Every day is a new opportunity to live in that freedom.

If you decide to accept, I offer you this advice as you begin to write the next chapter of your Carolina story: avail yourself of spontaneity, dive into Carolina, and grasp the moments you’re given during your four years here. You’ll be creating lifelong friendships, seizing opportunities, and making precious memories.

Are you ready? Lace up. It’s time to start running.

About the author

Cate Miller ’25

Cate Miller ’25 of Wilmington, North Carolina, focuses on social media strategy for the Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team.

Cate is passionate about public policy and healthcare. At Carolina, the scholar is involved with the Honors Carolina Student Association, the Institute of Politics, and the Campus Y. She also serves as healthcare policy head of the UNC Roosevelt Institute.

The first-year scholar graduated from Hoggard High School where she served as student body president and president of her school’s National Honor Society chapter.