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, integrity of convictions, and service to others.

Up to three students applicants will receive this award each year, along with a $200 cash prize; recipients will be recognized with their name listed on a plaque mounted in the lobby of the Administration Building. 

Applicants must:

  • be current Roanoke College students who will be enrolled in the following fall semester; and
  • submit a 600-800 word essay responding to the prompt below.

Please note that previous award winners are not eligible.

Essays may be serious, humorous, even a bit irreverent, but all should illustrate through a vivid personal story how you have experienced or come to understand more deeply one aspect of President Morehead's legacy: an open-minded approach to academics, the strength to stand on one's convictions even in the face of adversity, and dedication to a life of service to others. At the top of your essay, please identify which of the three themes you are exploring. Include a title and word count of your essay

You can approach this essay from any number of angles, for example: How has your broad campus experience-pursuing academics, participating in a club, a team, a living community, or other campus group-opened you to new ideas? How have your ethical convictions been tested while at RC and how did you respond? 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 and having a responsibility towards something larger than yourself?

Send your essay as an e-mail attachment to

Submissions are due by April 15

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 in those exciting, yet stressful moments.
  • This is a personal essay that should reflect your own convictions and experiences. Compose your essay in the first person ("I"). 
  • Be as specific as possible. Frame your essay around a particular story or experience at RC that has reinforced, challenged, or even transformed your understanding of one aspect of Morehead's legacy.
  • Your essay may be heartwarming, gut-wrenching, or funny, but it needn't be any of those things: what it should be is real.