The Walentas Scholars Program develops leaders, citizens, and scholars who are pioneers in the first generation of their families to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Schools within the eligible geographic regions may nominate for the 2022-23 selection cycle beginning in August. The first class of 12 Walentas Scholars will enter the University of Virginia in fall 2022.

The Walentas Scholar Profile

  • Leader: Walentas Scholars demonstrate a desire to serve others. They impact their communities through positions of leadership.
  • Citizen: Walentas Scholars lead by example in their communities, making a positive impact on the world around them.
  • Scholar: Walentas Scholars challenge themselves intellectually, taking the most rigorous courses available to them and succeeding in their course work.
  • First Generation: Walentas Scholars are trailblazers in the first generation of their families to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Student Eligibility

Who is eligible to be nominated?

Nominating secondary schools will consider all first-generation students in their senior classes who are outstanding contributors to their schools and families. Successful candidates have demonstrated exceptional leadership talents, an understanding of the broader community around them, and have demonstrated  uncommon academic abilities.

What is the definition of “first generation”?

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.

My parents didn’t attend or finish college, but one of my siblings earned (or is earning) a bachelor’s degree. Am I eligible?

Yes. You and your sibling are both considered first-generation students.

My parent or guardian is working on a college degree right now. Am I eligible?

Yes. Because your parent/guardian has not yet earned a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university, you are eligible. 

One of my parents earned a bachelor’s degree, but I have no relationship with them. Am I eligible?

If you do not know or have a relationship with a biological parent, it is unlikely that you would have benefitted from that parent’s “college knowledge.” Therefore, the Foundation would consider you eligible. 

I am not a U.S. citizen. Is citizenship a requirement?

Walentas Scholars do not have to be U.S. citizens. Citizenship, in the Walentas Scholars Program, means helping your community, in whatever community you find yourself during and after college.

My parent or guardian earned a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in another country. Am I eligible?

No. Because your parent or guardian has the equivalent of a four-year college degree, you would not be considered a first-generation student by the University of Virginia’s definition.

Do I need to apply to UVA in order to compete for a Walentas Scholarship?

Yes. All nominees should apply to UVA through the Common App by the Regular Decision deadline. Since the scholarship competition is separate from Admissions, nominees may apply to UVA as a Regular Decision, Early Action, or Early Decision applicant.

Selection and Nomination

How will the selection process work?

Every secondary school in the Commonwealth of Virginia and secondary schools in the five boroughs of New York City, Rochester, New York, Baltimore, Maryland, and St. Louis, Missouri are invited to nominate a candidate by the December 1 deadline. Regional Selection Committees appointed by the Jefferson Scholars Foundation will interview the students nominated and identify finalists. The finalists participate in interviews with the Final Selection Committee who will then recommend scholarship recipients to the Foundation. Recipients will have the opportunity to visit UVA to explore the opportunities afforded by the Scholarship.

What are the selection criteria?

Selection of recipients will be based on merit alone in the areas of leadership, scholarship, and engaged citizenship.

The Walentas Scholars Program does not consider SAT/ACT scores. 

Will the recipients be identified through the current Jefferson Scholarship selection process?

No. The Walentas Scholars Program is separate and distinct from the Foundation’s Jefferson Scholars Program.

Scholarship Details

What will the scholarship cover?

The scholarship will cover the entire cost of attending the University of Virginia, including tuition and fees, room, board, books, and spending money for a total of eight semesters. Additionally, the scholarship will fund a robust enrichment program designed to enhance the community of leaders and citizens.

How many recipients will there be?

The Foundation expects to enroll 12-15 students in each entering class.

Will there be an enrichment program associated with the scholarship?

Yes. The Foundation is developing a comprehensive enrichment program designed to ensure the recipients make the most of the opportunity. It will include mentoring, internship and research opportunities, and a dedicated director and program staff. Learn more about enrichment opportunities for Walentas Scholars.

What is the size of the endowment supporting this new program?

The Foundation’s endowment allows it to fully support those who accept the Walentas Scholarship for a total of eight semesters, as described above.

How can I learn more about the program?

Contact with any questions.




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