March 22, 2006 — Hailing from 24 states and the District of Columbia as well as India and South Korea, 96 finalists competed in Jefferson Scholars Selection Weekend March 16-19 on the Grounds of the University of Virginia. At the weekend’s conclusion, the Jefferson Scholars Selection Committee of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation extended offers of a Jefferson Scholarship to 44 of the finalists.
The merit-based criteria for selection as a Jefferson Scholar are demonstrated excellence and exceptional potential in the areas of leadership, scholarship and citizenship.
Jefferson Scholarships cover the full cost of attending the University, including tuition and fees, room and board, books, and other expenses.
Jefferson Scholars Selection Weekend consisted of a range of activities, including a math/logic exam, essay exercise, faculty-moderated seminars, and a final interview. Current Jefferson Scholars hosted the finalists during their time in Charlottesville and shared their own University experiences in a series of roundtable discussions. Finalists toured the Grounds and Monticello, attended classes alongside U.Va. students, and visited student organizations.
In advance of the weekend, the Foundation assigned readings to be used as the basis for the essay exercise and seminars. This year’s readings focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and served as the centerpiece for seminars entitled “Hurricane Katrina and the Arts: Rebuilding and Rethinking” and “How Science Can Help Predict Disasters Such as Hurricane Katrina.”
Those offered Jefferson Scholarships received e-mail notification on Monday, March 20, and have until April 20 to accept.
This year's finalists emerged from over 800 Jefferson Scholar nominees. The Foundation identified finalists through two avenues: 45 regional competitions around the country, and a separate competition that permitted a review of all Nursing and Architecture School applicants and every student, including international applicants, attending schools not eligible to compete in the regional competitions.
The task faced by the Jefferson Scholars Selection Committee, comprised of U.Va. alumni, faculty and administrators, was indeed a difficult one. There are 21 expected valedictorians and salutatorians among those offered Jefferson Scholarships. The average SAT score is 2252 (out of 2400), with 19 different individuals receiving perfect scores of 800 on one or more portions of the examination.
Besides exemplary academic credentials, the group has pursued a wide range of endeavors outside the classroom. Of the 44, 24 are on academic or debate teams, 23 are varsity athletes and 19 are team captains, 22 participate in the performing arts, and 11 have conducted independent science-related research.
A closer review of those offered Jefferson Scholarships reveals one who has been published in the Journal of Molecular Structure, and another who is the national winner of the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award for boys. There is a regional president of the Federation of Temple Youth, a ropes course instructor who works with autistic youth and a winner of the Miss Dance USA competition.
"The Jefferson Scholars Foundation's mission is to benefit the University of Virginia by recognizing and rewarding excellence. These young men and women embody excellence in leadership, scholarship, and citizenship, and possess the potential to provide the next generation of leadership to the University, the nation, and the world," said James H. Wright, president of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation.
Over four years, a Jefferson Scholar from Virginia receives approximately $66,000; an out-of-state Jefferson Scholar receives over $130,000. The Foundation currently supports 125 undergraduate students.
Private gifts from alumni and friends of the University have built the Jefferson Scholars Foundation over the past 25 years. A supporting foundation of the University of Virginia Alumni Association, the Jefferson Scholars Foundation’s endowment exceeds $155 million. A $100 million capital campaign will be a subset of the University’s broader $3 billion campaign.
"The work of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation would not be possible without the support of the University's alumni — not only their financial support but also their contributions of time and energy," said Wright. "This year more than 700 dedicated alumni devoted time to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, including serving on the regional selection committees that picked the Jefferson Scholar finalists. There is no other initiative at the University that consistently involves such a large number of alumni in active and productive service on behalf of the institution."