teen shelby wins $80,000 scholarship

Shelby High School senior Hattie Hensley was sitting alone in her room last week when she learned she had won a full ride to one of North Carolina’s most prestigious universities.

“I was alone in my room because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, if I was going to have good or bad news. I clicked on the tab that contained my letter. I I saw he was saying ‘Congratulations,’ and I just started shouting. My whole family came running upstairs. It was exciting,” recalled Hensley, who was named one of the scholarship recipients Morehead-Cain of this year.

Worth over $80,000, the Morehead-Cain Scholarship provides students with a fully-funded stay at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as summer travel and internships.

According to the website, the scholarship is awarded to students who demonstrate leadership, academics, character, and physical vigor.

In addition to balancing her schoolwork while running around the country, Hensley has, over the past four years, raised more than $15,000 for hungry children in Cleveland County.

Four years ago, she created the Light Ball Dash, a Christmas race taking runners on a one-mile hike from Marion Elementary School to Peach Street. The entire trek is illuminated by balls of light – mostly chicken wire covered in LED lights – in the area.

“I love running around and I love the light balls neighbors put up in trees,” Hensley said. “As I was running, I noticed how many cars were passing on the road, and I thought it was cool to see how many people were driving around the neighborhood to see the bullets.”

Proceeds from the race go to Feeding Kids Cleveland County.

Hensley plans to use the Morehead-Cain Fellowship to study biomedical engineering at UNC-Chapel Hill.

His hope is to one day work in regenerative medicine, growing tissues or organs for people who need them.

“I think it’s rewarding because it’s going to allow me to spend more time developing friendships and learning and doing things that I normally wouldn’t have been able to do if I hadn’t received this scholarship” , she said. “And I want to thank my family, my teachers and my coaches for supporting me along the way. The whole community too.”

Dustin George can be reached at 704-669-3337 or [email protected]

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