The Walentas Scholarship Program: Full-ride Scholarship For First-Generation Students

By Bright Silas

Scholarship Snapshot
Amount: Full Cost of attendance
Scope (Full or Partial): Full
Target Country: United States
Target Audience: First-generation students
Deadline: December 1

Attending college and attaining a degree requires huge financial commitments. This can be an obstacle for students from low-income backgrounds.

Full-ride scholarships offer a game-changing opportunity for these students.

At the University of Virginia, the Walentas Scholarship Program provides one such opportunity for eligible candidates. In this article, we’ll explore the details of this scholarship program, including its objectives, eligibility criteria, the application process, and tips for submitting a strong application.

What Is the Walentas Scholarship?

The Walentas Scholarship is a new merit-based scholarship program that targets incoming first-generation students at the University of Virginia. This scholarship is a full-ride scholarship that covers the entire cost of attendance at the University. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation established this scholarship in 2019 as part of a $100 million gift from David and Jane Walentas.  

This generous scholarship gift is for exceptional first-generation students. This signifies that the student must be the first in the family to attain a bachelor’s degree. The total value of the Walentas Scholarship goes over $333,000 for non-Virginian students and $177,000 for Virginian students.

The stipend alone in 2022 to 2023 exceeds $72,000 for non-Virginian students and $36,000 for Virginian students. This amount covers costs like tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, board, and personal expenses. 

The first Walentas Scholarship award was given in 2022 to 12 outstanding students. Through this program, these students have the opportunity to become leaders, responsible citizens, and scholars, paving the way for future generations.

Benefits of the Walentas Scholarship

Besides offering a full-ride scholarship, there are other benefits that come with receiving the Walentas Scholarship at the University of Virginia. These benefits help to broaden the horizon of Walentas Scholars and mold them into exceptional individuals in society. The Walentas Program covers the following supplemental enrichment opportunities: 

  • Institute for Leadership and Citizenship: In their first year, Scholars attend a two-week program designed to deepen their appreciation of leadership and citizenship. The Institute includes in-class workshops, group discussions, a service-learning project, seminars, and independent exploration.
  • Foreign Travel Studies: Scholars participate in a foreign travel and study experience through the University’s International Studies Office in the summer prior to their third year. They undertake an independently designed inquiry into a topic of personal interest following the structured program. 
  • Alumni Connections: Scholars have access to valuable connections which include hundreds of members of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation (JSF) community, current Scholars and Fellows, faculty, alumni, and volunteers. Through this medium, they receive mentoring, advice, and shadowing opportunities. Scholars can interact with the JSF community through a custom online platform and can also receive introductions to other members when appropriate. 
  • Career Development: Scholars can take part in career services programs. These programs provide one-to-one career exploration, guidance, and interview opportunities. Additionally, scholars who secure an unpaid internship during their time at the University of Virginia (UVA) are eligible for funding from the Foundation. 
  • Exploratory Fund: Scholars can apply for merit-based seed funding to implement cutting-edge ideas that create sustainable social, cultural, or economic change. New commercial or philanthropic enterprises within or outside the University are eligible for funding consideration. 
  • Learning from prominent leaders: The Jefferson Scholars Foundation hosts a number of speakers, panels, and conferences throughout the academic year. This gives Scholars the opportunity to engage with and learn from prominent faculty, alumni, government officials, and business leaders. ]

Walentas Scholarship Requirements

To be a Walentas’ scholar, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be a first-generation student. While a parent or guardian may have earned a certificate, credit, or an associate’s degree from a college, a student is eligible for the Walentas Scholarship if neither parent or guardian has earned a bachelor’s degree.
  • Possess leadership potential and demonstrate a desire to serve others. 
  • Lead by example in their communities, making a positive impact on the world around them. 
  • Be a high-school senior that contributes positively in school and their families
  • Demonstrate exceptional academic abilities by taking intellectual challenges like studying most rigorous courses and succeeding in their coursework. 

How to become a Walentas Scholar

The Walentas Scholarship program follows a rigorous selection process and gives awards to a limited number of students. To become a Walentas Scholar, you must follow the following steps:

  • Get a Nomination: No student can directly apply for the Walentas scholarship program. Participating eligible schools in 14 regions nominate one first-generation student in senior class who best embodies the virtues needed in a Walentas scholar. The student must demonstrate outstanding excellence in the areas of leadership, scholarship, and citizenship. The Office of Undergraduate Admission also additionally reviews Early applicants to the University of Virginia and recommends nominees for the Jefferson Scholarship. All you can do is notify your counselor and indicate an interest in getting this scholarship or apply to the University of Virginia through early action.
  • Complete the Nomination Application Once you’ve received your school’s nomination for the Walentas Scholarship, you’ll work with your school counselor to gather and submit your application materials. These include your academic record, a list of extracurricular activities, teacher recommendations, and responses to two essay questions. After you’ve submitted your Walentas Scholarship nomination application, it’s time to prepare for potential interview questions. 
  • Prepare for Interviews: Regional selection committees will review all aspects of your Jefferson Scholarship nomination application. Based on their review, they will select nominees for one or more rounds of interviews. After the selected nominees have answered a series of interview questions, the committee will then nominate candidates for the final selection round. You can research potential interview questions and prepare for them.
  • Final Selection: Finally, the Foundation invites finalists from the regional selection round to participate in another round of interviews in March. Those selected in this round will be invited to visit the UVA campus in Charlottesville. By mid-April, the Foundation notifies all Jefferson Scholarship winners and asks them to make a final decision about accepting the scholarship.

Walentas Scholars Timeline

  • Nomination applications for the Jefferson Scholarship open in September
  • The application deadline for the nomination is December 1. Schools in the At-Large region have a separate deadline of November 15.
  • All semifinalists get notifications and invites for interviews in January
  • The committee conducts interviews in February
  • Finalist gets invites to finalist weekend which will feature another round of interviews, group activities, and social events in March
  • Jefferson Scholars are selected and given awards in April

Tips to help you succeed

  • Start preparing early: The application process for the Walentas scholarship can be lengthy and competitive. Start researching the program and its requirements as early as possible, and give yourself plenty of time to complete the application. 
  • Demonstrate academic excellence: The scholarship committee looks for students who have excelled academically, so make sure to maintain a strong GPA, take challenging courses, and participate in academic activities that showcase your skills and knowledge.
  • Show leadership potential: The Walentas scholarship seeks to support students who have the potential to become leaders in their fields and communities. Demonstrate your leadership skills by taking on leadership roles in school clubs, volunteering in your community, and pursuing extracurricular activities that showcase your leadership abilities. 
  • Highlight your commitment to community service: The scholarship also values students who have a strong commitment to serving their communities. Participate in community service projects, volunteer in organizations that align with your interests and values, and highlight your community service experience in your application. 
  • Be authentic and genuine: The Walentas scholarship is not just about academic achievements, but also about your character and values. Be honest and genuine in your application, and show how you embody the ideals of the scholarship. Highlight your unique experiences, challenges, and aspirations, and how the scholarship would help you achieve your goals. 

At Scholarship Monitor, we are committed to providing you with up-to-date information on scholarship opportunities. Make sure to always check back for more updates and take advantage of the resources we have provided to help you achieve your academic and career goals.

Leave a Comment