Two seniors in the east receive full scholarships

RICHLANDS, N.C. (WITN) – Olivia Lopez and Jack Leary from Richlands High School in Onslow County have earned full-ride scholarships to college.

Lopez earned the Park Scholarship from NC State, while Leary accepted the Morehead-Cain Scholarship to the University of North Carolina.

“It was a blur how I felt,” said Lopez. “I was excited.”

When Lopez found out she received the scholarship, she said her family was on her mind.

“My family was with me during the experience with applying,” said Lopez. “I knew how excited they were going to be for me. I was with my family, so I hopped into the other room and told everybody.”

Lopez’s family traveled with her to Raleigh during the interview process. She shared a memorable moment from the interview process.

“I had to do a Zoom meeting interview, and funny enough, I was at a wrestling match. I had to tear off my singlet, put on my blazer, and sit down with three alumni to talk about why I thought I would be good for the Park Scholarship.”

Leary also received a major scholarship, earning the Morehead-Cain Scholarship to UNC, which was his first choice.

“I opened the email up by myself,” said Leary. “I knew I was going to get the email that day, but I didn’t know what time.”

When he found out, his first thought was to share the news with his mom.

“She was sitting on the couch reading a book,” said Leary. “She jumped up and started dancing around like she didn’t know what to do.”

Leary says his mom has made everything possible for him. From her support with photography to making him into the person he is today, he is grateful.

“It made me emotional,” said Leary. “I was able to give back to her not only financially but as something for her to see. She really did a great job as a mother, guiding me to be the successful young man I am.”

Leary says he is thankful for all his mother’s efforts, which helped him be in the position to accept the Morehead-Cain Scholarship.

“I am very lucky,” Leary said. “They saw something in me. I am fortunate that they saw what they wanted to see.”

Leary has been a fan of UNC since he was a child and plans to pursue journalism there.

A total of 73 Morehead-Cain and 35 Park Scholars were recognized for the class of 2028 worldwide.