Sophie Cho: Morehead Scholar, where she is now.

Cho on the Outward Bound School rafting trip in Oregon this past summer. This summer enrichment was provided for free as a benefit of her scholarship. (Photo used by permission of Sophie Cho)
Cho with Paul Dinkenor, social studies teacher, and Camden Dinkenor, freshman. The three happened to meet at UNC football game.

In 2019, thousands of eager applicants awaited the results of the Morehead-Cain scholarship, and former student, Sophie Cho was among those given the honorable news. Sophie Cho, a student at Leesville Road High School who graduated with the class of 2019, received the Morehead-Cain Scholarship at UNC Chapel Hill, where she attends school. 

The Morehead-Cain scholarship is one of the most prestigious scholarships given throughout the country, allowing recipients a full ride to UNC and an all-expenses covered summer enrichment program. In order to win the Morehead, Cho endured several rounds of writings and interviews before she earned the scholarship. 75 Moreheads are chosen throughout the world each year, and Leesville’s very own, Sophie Cho, is among them. 

Cho spent her time after high school tutoring ESL students: She speaks fluent Korean and aided them each day in their studies. Playing in Leesville’s symphonic band, a member of her church’s youth praise team, partaking in competitive archery, a leader in her church’s youth council, and the Leesville Women’s Soccer statistician, Cho devoted any and all free time to helping others in her community. 

Teachers describe Cho the exact same way. Last year, during lunch, Cho stayed behind to tutor a student in her English class for her Civics and Economics test later in the day. “When I told Sophie I would sign her volunteer sheet for hours, she said she had already gotten all her hours. Sophie purely did this out of the goodness of her heart,” said Heather Dinkenor, Cho’s AP Literature teacher. 

The Morehead creates a tight bond of students from the very beginning by providing an all-funded summer outdoor leadership opportunity open to all first-year students prior to the first day on campus. Cho traveled to Oregon on a rafting/mountaineering trip through the Outward Bound School. The three weeks, described in Cho’s words as, “perspective-altering to say the least” and helped her to further value “hard work, open-mindedness, and the importance of self-care,” which she feels are the three most important things to focus on in the first years of college. 

Cho interacts with other Moreheads frequently, partaking in dinner-parties and social events. Despite the built-in friendship provided to her by this scholarship, Cho feels “pride in simply being a Tarheel.”

Due to the fact that most experiences are free on campus for Cho, she says she “feel[s] a greater obligation to learn and grow as much as [she] can and give back to the communities that have gotten [her there].” The Morehead also provides a smaller, united support group giving her access to “wonderful advisors, staff, alumni, and scholars,” which Cho feels has helped her navigate such an overwhelming campus like Chapel Hill. 

Cho also joined the well-known acapella group through Chapel Hill called the “Loreleis,” where she got to meet Bernie Sanders and has opened her up to a whole new set of memories on campus. An ambition of her four years on campus is to “go zero-waste,” which she feels is extremely doable.

Unlike high school where everyone is more or less equal or the best of the best, reputations are in tact, and friendships thrive, college is a giant, deep tank filled to the brim with superior fish. 

Everyone is fighting for a spot at the top, with the best professors and the best classes, as everyone strives to create the best foundation for the future. Cho acknowledges how these situations can make students feel “stressed, lonely, and discouraged.” In order to avoid this, Cho’s advice would be to “give yourself an easy first-semester of classes to ease into campus life, find a solid group of friends, and build your identity,” for she feels many people rush to reinvent themselves when college hits. 

Despite the expected hardships, Cho has already had many “cool experiences like meeting Senator Bernie Sanders or running into Coach Dink at the Old Well.” Cho feels the best part so far about campus-life is the late-night hangouts with friends and the fact she gets to learn from such a diverse student body, staff, and faculty. 

Although she has enjoyed her time on campus so far, she misses “wonderful, caring, knowledgeable teachers, counselors, and faculty,” along with the “close-knit atmosphere that Leesville fostered.”

While Cho creates a name for herself at one of the best public schools in the nation, under one of the best scholarships in the nation, she reflects on her time in high school frequently and all that Leesville had to offer. 

“I miss being able to interact with friends and classmates in the halls, band room, parking lot, classes, and sporting events! I miss you all! PRIDE FOREVER!”


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