The Jefferson and Morehead-Cain Scholarships are two of the most prestigious collegiate awards in the United States. Each year, Andover nominates students for these scholarships on the basis of attributes such as leadership and citizenship.
The Jefferson Scholarship is associated with the University of Virginia (UVA), and the Morehead-Cain Scholarship is associated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). Kenneth Shows, Associate Director of College Counseling, is the chair of Andover’s selection committee for the two awards.
“We, as a school, are required or asked by the scholarship foundations to nominate students for the scholarship, and so we have a committee here on campus that reviews students who are potential nominees, runs an interview process here on our campus, reads the pre-application files, coordinates the interviews, and I’m the chair of that committee. It’s a larger faculty committee that includes the college counseling staff and some of the teaching faculty as well,” said Shows.
In April and May, the committee begins the nomination process and then moves to selecting final nominees. Shows described the process and the many factors that go into the committee’s final decisions.
“The college counselors will take the initial group and look at several criteria, among which are a student’s transcript, test scores, which do matter in these processes as well, and we’ll talk about the students as fits for the criteria… It’s still making some pretty tough cuts, but with the idea to leave enough strong candidates that the remaining scholarship committee can interview them and get a feel for how they might operate in interview settings and how they can express these good qualities that they have in an interview setting because that does matter in both of these processes,” said Shows.
Each year, the committee nominates two students for the Jefferson Scholarship. Anlan Du ’18 was one of last year’s nominees. After traveling to Charlottesville, Va. to interview as a finalist, Du was awarded the scholarship.
“Initially, I didn’t even think I wanted to go to UVA, and my college counselor sort of told me, ‘You might as well fill out this application. It’s just a couple extra essays.’ So I did, and eventually [Andover] selected me as one of their nominees along with Sydney Marler ’18, but then there was a process of another interview in the region. Then finally after a few months, I was notified that I was a finalist and that I would be going out to Charlottesville to actually go through the selection weekend,” said Du.
During the weekend, Du enjoyed meeting the other nominees and learning from them. According to Du, there wasn’t an atmosphere of competition that one might have expected to find.
“That was one of the best weekends of my life, and I think that really sealed the deal for me. I think what I really loved about the second selection weekend is that you were surrounded by people who were doing amazing things, but nobody would boast about it. You just sort of got this sense that everyone there was doing wonderful things. People were organizing marches at their schools, people were running clubs and doing research, but there was none of that culture of competition that I think can surround these things,” said Du.
Sydney Marler ’18 also received the Jefferson Scholarship. In an email to The Phillipian, she went into further detail about the selection weekend in Charlottesville.
“I remember coming away from the interview feeling really excited intellectually… To compete for the scholarship we all had to write an essay, take a logic exam, undergo another interview process, and the selection committee observed us as we each spoke in a seminar on ‘Automation and Society.’ We had mixers and dinners with our judges where everyone got to know each other better,” wrote Marler.
Although Marler did not take the scholarship, she said that the process bettered her and helped her to form lasting relationships.
“Going through the entire process pushed me to grow as a student and a human being. I met so many wonderful friends and mentors at Selection Weekend, who I know I will stay in touch with throughout college. Although I ended up choosing not to take the Jefferson Scholarship, the entire selection process caused me reflect and showed me exactly what I want from my college experience. To future Jefferson Scholarship nominees: go for it, have an open mind, and have a ton of fun,” wrote Marler.