​Jefferson Scholars Foundation awards scholarship to 36 high school seniors

Award includes full ride to U.Va.


The Jefferson Scholars Foundation announced May 17 the 36 incoming first-year students who will receive the merit-based Jefferson Scholarship. The scholarship covers the full cost of tuition for four years and includes funds for foreign travel and other extracurricular activities.

The selection process for the recipients begins in the fall, when the foundation asks schools from around the world to nominate students to the competition, according to Jefferson Scholars Foundation President Jimmy Wright.

“The invitation is to nominate the student, or if they think they have two viable candidates, two students in the senior class who best exemplify excellence and leadership, scholarship and citizenship,” Wright said. “We ask the schools to consider only those three criteria and not worry about whether the person has expressed interest in coming to the University or has financial need.”

The foundation received a record 2,005 nominations this year, continuing a trend of increasing numbers.

“We, for the past several years, have been steadily seeing increased totals of nominations,” Wright said. “Part of that is we’re adding regions, part of it is I think we’re doing a better job of telling our story, and becoming maybe a little better known as time goes by and so we’re on [the schools’] radar screens a little more effectively than we might have been.”

After the students are nominated, they go through two stages of interviews by region and a last round competition among the finalists in Charlottesville.

The number of Jefferson Scholars in a class may depend on a few variables, particularly who accepts the scholarship.

“It’ll vary from year to year, depending on who accepts the offer,” Wright said. “Not everybody accepts. But our hope, our target, is to have around one percent of the entering class be Jefferson Scholars.”

Additionally, a larger percentage of the incoming class will have been nominated for the scholarship.

“What we have seen happily is that, right now it’s approaching nine percent, of the entire entering class are Jefferson Scholarship nominees,” Wright said. “So one percent would be holders of the scholarship, and then another eight-plus percent of the entering class are students who were nominated to the competition.”

The incoming class of Jefferson Scholars is made up of nine Virginians and one international student out of the 36 total.

“We’re confident they’re going to be outstanding members of the community,” Wright said. “They come from all over and we’re excited to have them join the scholar community and the University community. We’re looking forward to seeing how well they do over the next four years.”

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