Drayton looks forward to University of North Carolina journey

MIHS senior will be a Morehead-Cain scholar at Chapel Hill campus.

Jamison Drayton proclaimed with a beaming smile that she’s a Tar Heel for life.

Both her parents attended and met at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Mercer Island High School (MIHS) senior will follow in their footsteps to the land of light Carolina blue in the fall.

As one can imagine, she already possesses plenty of the school’s merch, and now Drayton has notched the title of Morehead-Cain scholar, just like her father.

Through the four-year scholar program, Drayton and 61 other members of the class of 2027 will each receive a stipend of approximately $250,000 for the cost of attendance, participation in the Summer Enrichment Program, Lovelace Fund for Discovery, gap year and study abroad. According to the school, the program’s undergraduate merit scholarship aims to guide students in making a positive difference in the world.

“It’s really cool that this was in the family, and so they’re just really happy, and I’m just happy that I can make them proud,” Drayton said while relaxing outside MIHS on a recent sunny day and sporting a UNC sweatshirt, of course.

Drayton said that UNC was already one of the top schools on her early application list when she learned about the Morehead-Cain program through the Guided Pathway Support Program, which helps students of color traverse the college application process. After receiving an immense helping hand from MIHS counselor Susie Brown and teacher Curtis Johnston, Drayton sent in her application and received a nomination for the UNC program.

“This very much sealed the deal to make me go there. I was UNC born and bred,” said Drayton, noting that she’s grateful for Brown and Johnston playing integral roles in the process by compiling her transcripts, writing a letter of recommendation, ushering her through essay writing and more.

Brown provided the Reporter a pair of vital quotes that she penned in various letters for the student: “Jamison brings that ‘something extra’ to the discussion. She is articulate, thoughtful, thought-provoking and thorough. Jamison speaks her truth, does so with integrity and is not afraid to have the difficult conversations.”

Upon meeting Drayton for the first time last year, Johnston said he was immediately impressed with her drive, big life goals and intellectual curiosity.

Johnston discussed some additional qualities that Drayton embodies in the school realm: “She is a great student athlete, with unmatched grace and style in the classroom and on the lacrosse field. A consummate team player and natural leader, the University of North Carolina landed a real gem with Jamison.”

Along with captaining the defending state champion lacrosse squad at MIHS, Drayton serves as president of the PETRI club that raises money to fund secondary education in Kenya, a senior officer of the Black Student Union, head of the social justice committee for the athletic leadership team, and founder of the Black Student Union Elementary School Mentoring Program.

In the classroom at UNC, Drayton plans to focus her studies within the challenging biology field with her sights set on the pre-med track. She especially enjoys the exploration element of her science courses at MIHS and thrives on helping and interacting with people. As a volunteer at Swedish Hospital, she works alongside doctors and nurses and would like to delve into pediatric surgery in the future.

If she has time for athletics outside of her rigorous classroom schedule, Drayton may continue playing lacrosse as a walk-on or with a club team. On the activities front, she plans to join the Black Student Union and some medical clubs and look into starting a PETRI branch at the university.

Drayton said she’d like to make an impact at whatever transpires during her upcoming UNC journey. During her four years at MIHS, she’s learned that if you put in the effort, amazing things will happen.

“I’m excited for that, especially in a brand new place, new opportunities. I look forward to that,” she said.