Ethan Gailushas receives Morehead-Cain Scholarship to attend UNC-Chapel Hill

When Washington High School student Ethan Gailushas thinks about the attributes needed to receive a prestigious scholarship, it is character that resonates most. Gailushas received the Morehead-Cain Scholarship, a four-year undergraduate merit scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a lifelong challenge to make a positive difference in the world. There are four founding pillars associated with the noteworthy honor: leadership, character, scholarship and physical vigor.

“While all scholarships emphasize academics and leadership, the Morehead-Cain also focuses clearly on the character of the recipient,” said Gailushas. “This is important to me because I want to be surrounded by others of character who focus on being good people. Because of the character that every Morehead-Carin scholar exhibits, it is a very inclusive community.”

Gailushas cites that, “humility is a huge part of being a Morehead-Cain Scholar, in addition to service, kindness, family values, hard work and a lot of sacrifice.”

An interesting component that distinguishes the scholarship from others is the physical vigor element. Morehead-Cain seeks students who are “explorers and adventurers” and “intentional about taking care of their health and well-being.” Gailushas is an ice hockey goaltender for the Cedar Rapids Roughriders of the Midwest High School Hockey League and gives back by teaching kids to skate on Saturday mornings and Monday nights.

Gailushas also displayed his combined physical vigor and character by sharing his personal weight loss journey. He worked long and steady from middle school years until now to lower his body mass index. ”When no one is watching, you keep going,” said Gailushas. “You do 10 push ups instead of nine, and work hard knowing that results will come down the line and not always immediately. This taught me to stay strong and not give up. I applied this philosophy to my school work too – making sacrifices to study and working hard instead of watching TV.” Gailushas takes rigorous classes such as Fundamentals of Abstract Math at Coe College.

Key people to thank for their support

Jennifer Byers, Washington Counseling Department Chair, nominated Gailushas and supported him along the way. The lengthy and involved process began with 3,000 national nominations and ended with only 75 awarded recipients. “I was lucky to be at this school and have their support,” said Gailushas.

One of the first things Gailushas expresses is his gratitude for his family. Ethan is the son of Christina and Shane Gailushas of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “The main reason I got this is because of my parents’ love and support,” said Gailushas.

Washington High School has a strong history of Morehead-Cain Scholars

Jennifer Byers has been working with students for many years on the Morehead-Cain opportunity. Washington High School is designated as one of six Iowa “nominating schools.”

A recent Washington graduate is a current Morehead-Cain Scholar. Quintin Gay graduated from Washington in 2019 and spent his gap year in Russia until COVID-19 forced his early return to the United States in spring 2020.

Additionally, the following former Washington students were Morehead-Cain Scholars and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in the years designated below:

  • Laurel Zmolek-Smith – 2004
  • Erin Becker – 2011
  • Kate Baustian – 2012
  • Dan Peterson – 2013

One additional Washington student was awarded the Morehead-Cain, but did not accept it, which makes seven students who have been awarded the scholarship and six who have accepted it and joined the program.

Gailushas’ full biography reveals multiple talents

Ethan Christopher Gailushas will graduate this spring from George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he serves as the president of the National Honor Society chapter and as valedictorian. Gailushas was a lead soloist in the Iowa All-State Jazz Choir this year and a member of the All-State Chorus. He is also an ice hockey goaltender for the Cedar Rapids Roughriders of the Midwest High School Hockey League. Gailushas participates in volunteer work including tutoring, working with Central Furniture Rescue, and serving as 1st assistant to the Bishop at his local church. In addition to cooking and teaching kids how to skate, Gailushas’s personal interests include writing and performing music. He has three official album releases and hopes to release more in the future. At UNC, he is interested in studying chemistry and minoring in Japanese.