The Morehead Award

The Morehead Award is named for John Alfred Morehead, president of Roanoke College from 1903-1920.  Morehead was a stalwart defender of academic freedom during a tempestuous controversy in the early 1900s and after leaving Roanoke College went on to a life of service in post-war Europe. As such, Morehead embodied the College's historic commitment to open-mindedness in academic pursuits and service to others.

Up to three students applicants will receive this award each year, along with a $200 cash prize and an invitation to read their essays at fall Convocation, a ceremony that celebrates the beginning of the new academic year and for incoming students marks the beginning of their own journeys of personal growth and intellectual exploration at RC.

Applicants must:

  • be current Roanoke College students enrolled in Fall 2014;
  • submit a 350-500 word essay responding to the prompt below.

Essays may be serious, humorous, even a bit irreverent, but should all engage the question "What does it mean to you to pursue an education in a community of learners?" You can approach this question from any number of angles, for example: What has your time at RC taught you about the relationship between academic pursuits and the community of people who surround you? How has engaging in classes, doing research, studying abroad, participating in service learning, or even studying with friends played a role in your sense of belonging to something larger than yourself? How has your broad campus experience-pursuing academics as well as participating in a club, a team, a living-learning community, or other campus group-changed you and/or your core values and beliefs?


Send your essay as an e-mail attachment to

Submissions are due by 5 PM, February 28, 2014.

In composing your essay for the Morehead Award, consider these helpful tips:

  • Remember that your primary audience will be new Roanoke College students. Think back to your first days on campus, and communicate a message and tone that would have engaged and inspired you.


  • These essays should take the form of a "This I Believe" (TIB) essay. TIB essays are brief but potent explanations of a deeply held personal belief. You may find it useful to focus on a strongly held value, ideal, or conviction that has been (or has become) important to you as an RC student, even if you don't always live up to your own ideals!


  • Roanoke College strives to give you the freedom to learn about yourself and encourages you to think about the world beyond yourself from new and challenging perspectives. Your essay may speak to an experience or an event that has transformed you personally or that has challenged or reinforced a core belief.


  • This is a personal essay: it should reflect your own convictions and you should compose it in the first person ("I"). Don't write what you think others will necessarily approve of, but what you sincerely and genuinely believe.


  • Be as specific as possible; framing your belief around a particular story or experience is useful and engaging. Your essay may be heartwarming, gut-wrenching, or funny, but it needn't be any of those things: what it should be is real. It should focus on a single, central belief that you can name or describe in a sentence or two.


  • Your essay should be positive and avoid preaching. Talk about what you do believe, not what you don't. And focus on why you believe in what you're saying, not why others should.