The Board of Trustees of the Sky Alland Scholarship has selected third-year Commerce student Kate McGinn as this year’s recipient. This prestigious scholarship recognizes rising fourth-year students who have shown humility, devotion to the University and a capacity for leadership during their years in college. The scholarship covers full tuition and fees for the next academic year.
The Sky Alland Scholarship is named after J. Schuyler Alland, a 1979 McIntire graduate who went on to become a successful entrepreneur, developing a national marketing research company. Alland was killed in 1992, but continues to inspire students through his scholarship and legacy.
Among her numerous accomplishments, McGinn is the programs director of HackCville, a student entrepreneurship center that offers 15 semester-long programs to over 400 students. McGinn leads HackCville’s staff of 32 students.
McGinn currently works as a resident advisor and has interned at Ashoka, a non-profit organization committed to expanding social entrepreneurship across the globe.
“I don’t just want to make money in this world,” McGinn said. “I want to leave some sort of positive footprint, whether that’s environmental or social but I want to do something that benefits the people around me.”
Six finalists are chosen from a pool of nominations for the scholarship by a selection committee comprised of fourth-year students chosen by Dean of Students Allen Groves. The finalists were then invited to a dinner April 6 with the scholarship committee — composed of University alumni who select the scholarship recipient. After undergoing several more interviews, the scholarship committee notifies and honors the winner at an Alumni Association awards event.
“To know that I was a finalist was already crazy to think,” McGinn said. “To know that they saw something in me and they kind of bet on me in a way was wildly humbling as well.”
The finalist dinner takes place in the Dome Room of the Rotunda with notable alumni and friends of Alland. McGinn said it was a humbling experience.
“It’s a really really touching experience — you‘re sitting in the Dome Room and you’re hearing all these things about Sky Alland and they make statements about you,” McGinn said. “It’s honestly the one of the coolest experiences I think I’ve had at U.Va., and memorable for sure.”
Malcolm Stewart, a fourth-year Batten student and 2017 recipient of the Sky Alland Scholarship, chaired the student selection committee. Although Stewart and his committee do not choose the ultimate recipient, Stewart said he thinks the scholarship committee did a great job in choosing McGinn.
“There is no comparison year to year of the students who are the finalists and the student who is the ultimate recipient because each and every one of them are their own embodiment of the legacy of Sky Alland,” Stewart said. “I think the trustees on the committee did an incredible job of selecting yet another incredible representative of Sky Alland and his legacy and someone who will ultimately … take this as an amazing award and honor and continue to give back in the way that she does.”
Stewart also spoke about his initial emotions upon receiving the news that he was a recipient of the scholarship a year ago. The current senior resident of the Lawn and Fourth-Year Trustees president, Stewart said winning the scholarship was probably one of the best moments of his life.
“Being the recipient of the scholarship last year was probably and easily the most humbling experience and proudest moment in my entire life,” Stewart sai. “Just to have people in my life to see me in a way that compares to the legacy of someone like Sky Alland is a feeling unlike anything else.”
Finalists in this scholarship are judged upon five categories of criterion — enterprising spirit, leadership, achievement, humility and devotion to the University. While the finalists are all qualified, McGinn said she thinks her desire to do good in the world was what really set her apart.
“I think what stood out was that I am actually genuinely interested in leaving the world better than I found it,” McGinn said. “Whether that’s in education, or that’s in entrepreneurship or in social issues like food inequality or infrastructure development, I think I can actually take up a lot of these projects or problems and actually apply myself to work on them. I think my dedication to that stuck out.”