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FHS's McRacken named Morehead-Cain Scholar

posted May 12, 2017, 7:59 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

Freedom High School senior Andrew “Drew” Philip McRacken is one of 66 Morehead-Cain Scholars who will enter the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as freshmen in the fall. The Morehead-Cain Foundation, home of the first merit scholarship program in the U.S. and founded at the first public university in the country, announced its class of 2021 last month. Drew, the son of Lisa Moses, the school counselor at Oak Hill Elementary School, and Mark McRacken of Mooresville, said he was in “awe” and “excited” when he received word that he was named a Morehead-Cain Scholar following a lengthy and stressful process.

He said, “My application process started with a school nomination from Freedom. From there, I was invited to a semi-finalist interview in Asheville. The semi-finalist stage was followed by an offer to attend Finalist Weekend at UNC Chapel Hill. I was then able to spend four days surrounded by some amazing individuals while exploring campus, visiting classes, and taking care of a few interviews.

“Honestly, I was pretty overwhelmed and rather discouraged going into the process, especially the finalist weekend. I had never expected to be able to meet the standards and expectations set by my fellow applicants.

“After the stressful interview process, I was able to relax, enjoy myself, and explore campus. After a week of stress and anxiety, I got the news, and I was able to just lay back in awe and excitement.  At the time, trying to grasp the sudden availability of a lifetime of opportunities was impossible.  I was able to hug my mom's neck and send up a blissful prayer of thanks that God chose to open this door.”

            Drew is in the band at Freedom, on the Math Team, in Quiz Bowl, Key Club, 3D Printing Club (which he co-founded), Student Government Association and National Honors Society and plays football and tennis and swims.

He said he has been blessed to have wonderful teachers at Freedom. “My favorite has been Mrs. Kelly Baker, the most fabulous Calculus teacher in Burke County,” he said. “Through one of my favorite subjects, Mrs. Baker has instilled with in me a lifelong passion for learning and critical thinking.” 

Drew described his mom as his role model. He said, “She has been my motivator from day one, constantly standing by me with undying support and encouragement. Without her, I would not be the young man I am today. I look to my mom for guidance and use her as a model for overcoming the obstacles that life likes to throw. I thank her from the bottom of my heart for teaching me to follow my heart and to not lay down when the going gets tough.”

Drew plans to study biomedicine and health science engineering, which is a dual program between Carolina and N.C. State University. “From there, I hope to form a career in the design and development of artificial organs, medical equipment, and prosthetic devices,” he said.

Drew spent last summer sharing his love of science at Oak Hill Elementary School’s daycare where he taught science-based lessons in a program he called “Bulldogs in the Lab.” He led lessons on static electricity, acids and bases and Newton’s Laws of Motion, to name a few. Students built volcanoes, model cars and baking soda rockets as part of the lessons.

Burke County Board of Education Chair Randy Burns, the engineering technologist at the NC Center for Engineering Technologies, is Drew’s advisor for his graduation project. Burns said, “Drew is very deserving of this prestigious scholarship. I have gotten to know him through his participation on the Direct Digital Manufacturing Team for the STEAM Academy and supervising his senior project. He is a very bright young man with a bright future ahead of him.”

Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam said, “I knew Drew when he was a kindergartner at Oak Hill Elementary School and have enjoyed watching him grow and succeed over the year. I look forward to seeing what he does next.”

The 2021 Morehead-Cain Scholarship class includes 37 students from North Carolina plus students from 15 other states, the United Kingdom, Canada, Albania and Singapore. The scholarship covers all expenses for four years of undergraduate study at UNC-Chapel Hill. It also features a distinctive program of summer enrichment experiences designed to support students as they learn and grow. During the course of four summers, scholars will have opportunities to complete an outdoor leadership course, commit themselves to public service in the U.S. or abroad, conduct research at sites around the world and gain experience in private enterprise.

Past scholarship recipients include Gov. Roy Cooper, Ann Livermore, current board of directors member and former executive vice president at Hewlett-Packard, and Bobby Evans, general manager of the San Francisco Giants.

For more information on the Morehead-Cain Scholarship, visit http://uncnews.unc.edu/2017/04/28/morehead-cain-foundation-announces-class-2021/.



Morehead-Cain Scholarship recipient Drew McRacken with Freedom Principal Mike Swan and Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam.

Morehead-Cain Scholarship recipient Drew McRacken, right, with STEAM Academy Direct Digital Manufacturing teammates as well as instructor Wayne Whaley and Board of Education Chair Randy Burns.