Being a Jefferson Scholar means different things to different individuals, yet there are certain aspects of the experience that all students value. We asked a number of Scholars to talk about the honor in their own words.

Luke Williams

Class of 2018
Dallas, Texas

“The most important aspect of the Jefferson Scholarship has been the community of scholars and administrators who are always ready to support and also challenge each other. Each member brings a unique and powerful perspective to the community, making for a vibrant dialogue and allowing me to explore interests I never knew I had.”

Sumedha Deshmukh

Class of 2017
Virginia Beach, Virginia

“Scholars share a passion for and dedication to their respective interests, which range from complex scientific research to the intricacies of modern feminism. Scholars pursue the things they care about in a truly exceptional way, enabling and challenging others as they do so. As a Scholar, you have the distinct privilege of interacting with and learning from these remarkable individuals. They push you to be better through thoughtful conversations, genuine regard for others and unequivocal support.”

Maeve Curtin

Class of 2018
Falls Church, Virginia

“Being a Jefferson Scholar means being welcomed into a community that functions much like a traditional family. Scholars respect one another, are honest with each other, and experience the joys in each other’s lives. There is no ideal Jefferson Scholar, but each individual is strong-thinking and intellectually curious, united by values of respect, a desire to be challenged, and an ability to help mold, grow, and better others. Never before have I been surrounded by a group of individuals who are all so different, but who continuously humble me and inspire me to be better.”



The Jefferson Scholarship is the premier undergraduate scholarship at the University of Virginia. Scholars are selected through a rigorous selection process that is based on exceptional performance in the areas of leadership, scholarship and citizenship.

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The Jefferson Fellowship is the premier graduate fellowship offered at the University of Virginia. Based solely on merit, the Fellowship seeks to attract Ph.D. and M.B.A. candidates.

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David and Jane Walentas

A transformational gift for UVA — $100 million to benefit first-generation students

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