The Jefferson Scholars Foundation has awarded Ashley Robin Hurst its first Groundbreakers Fellowship for graduate study at the University of Virginia beginning this fall. Funded by women from the University's first four fully coeducational graduating classes, the fellowship is awarded to a female doctoral candidate on the basis of her outstanding potential in scholarship and teaching.
Hurst earned B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of Florida and a master of divinity from Yale University. A former partner at Rogers & Harden LLP, she intends to work primarily on a multi-disciplinary undertaking, enrolling in courses throughout the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the School of Law.
She said she is "interested in pursuing a cross-disciplinary approach to exploring the contours of the self from theological, social and ethical perspectives," adding that it is her goal to teach undergraduate and graduate students as well as those outside the academy interested in seeking answers to complex medical, ethical and theological questions.
The Groundbreakers Fellowship is intended to address the University's critical need to recruit the most talented doctoral candidates in the world, according to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation's announcement. It will enhance the undergraduate learning experience, play a pivotal role in the recruitment and retention of a superior faculty and make a significant contribution to the University's intellectual vitality.
Susan Evans, a 1976 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences, and co-founder of the fellowship, was the first donor to its endowment. "The University has meant a lot to me over the years," she said. "I feel it is important to recognize the strides the University has made for women."