After losing a doubles match March 8 on a tennis court in Wilson, Rocky Mount Academy senior Tripp Andracchio checked the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s website on his phone.
At that moment, Andracchio said he knew his life had been changed forever.
The 18-year-old had just been notified he was a recipient of the institution’s Morehead-Cain Scholarship, an award that pays for not only four years of tuition, but a series of unique summer enrichment activities that will take Andracchio all over the globe as well.
“I walked up to my dad, and he just kind of knew. We hugged for about 30 seconds straight, and my mom started crying when I told her. My friends’ parents were crying, and I almost started crying,” Andracchio said. “It took about two days for it to finally sink in and for me to realize the gravity of the situation. It hit me when I was alone on Sunday that I was never going to be the same.”
In the beginning, Andracchio said he didn’t think he had much of a chance to win the prestigious scholarship, and that feeling continued even through the finalist weekend held March 2-3.
The competition was intimidating, Andracchio said.
“There were 112 finalists in there from all over the world, and I can remember looking over the room and thinking that I was the least impressive person there,” Andracchio said. “In the end, it is not just the number of activities you have been involved in, but rather how you have changed those programs and how they have influenced you.”
Having attended Rocky Mount Academy since he was four years old, Andracchio said the school’s “tightknit community” – composed of staff, friends and teachers – supporting him over the years ultimately has rounded him out.
“They have supported me so much and encouraged me to follow what I love instead of the typical role of just going to school and doing homework,” Andracchio said.
In addition to playing a dynamic role in the school’s drama program, Andracchio also plays sports and serves as student body president and chair of the honor council.
“This award is about so much more than just one person. It is a testament to how much I have gotten out of this community, out of RMA and from all the people who have helped me along the way,” Andracchio said.
During his first summer, Andracchio said he wants to either sea kayak in Washington or go sailing in Maine.
For the second summer, Andracchio will get an all-expense-paid service trip to any country in the world.
“The third summer is a research project on anything that interests you. One person traveled around Europe with a D-Day veteran and made a documentary about it,” Andracchio said. “The fourth summer is an internship. The Morehead family is so large, and they take care of each other. You can get an internship at almost any company in the country or anywhere in the world. When I looked down the list, scholars had gone to CNN, World Health Organization, the CDC and Warner Brothers Studios.”
At this time, Andracchio said his goal is to pursue a major in broadcast journalism.
The high school senior simply has a love for learning and has been a fun student to work with because of his diverse interests, said Allison Daniel, the school’s college guidance counselor.
“Watching him on stage is totally entertaining, and he has such a great work ethic,” Daniel said. “Tripp is personable and comfortable around adults, and I think that made a huge difference in the final interviews.”
Rocky Mount Academy graduate Emma Park won the Morehead-Cain Scholarship last year.
“The Morehead-Cain is the most prestigious scholarship program in the country, and we are honored to have a recipient from Rocky Mount Academy for the second year in a row,” Rocky Mount Head of School Beth Covolo said. “In Tripp, UNC is getting such a leader. He has a unique passion for leadership, scholarship and service, and we know he will make the most of every opportunity he is given.”
Since Andracchio attended Rocky Mount Academy since pre-kindergarten, Covolo said the school’s staff and parents have been made proud watching the student develop over the years.
“It is a well-deserved honor,” Covolo said.