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The Johnson Scholarship Program

New Voices Introducing the Class of 2013

Students who have the intellect to excel and the selflessness to care should have the opportunity to lead.

Washington and Lee University

— the johnson scholarship program 2009 —

Leadership is a central concept at Washington and Lee University, and we have a strong record of alumni who exemplify that ideal—among them, Sen. John Warner ’49, Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell ’29, ’31L, journalist Roger Mudd ’50, writer Tom Wolfe ’51, Nobel prize winner Dr. Joseph Goldstein ’62, and FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker ’90. The University’s Johnson Scholarship Program focuses on developing young leaders, and it offers students who demonstrate exceptional personal promise full financial support, regardless of their ability to afford tuition and other expenses.

This year, W&L welcomes 38 Johnson Scholars to the campus and all the passions and perspectives they bring. Their voices will elevate classroom discussion, enrich community life and heighten the University’s sense of what is possible. They have a lot on their minds, as you will see on the following pages. We welcome them into W&L’s ongoing conversation about the importance of leadership and the well-established W&L tradition of serving others as engaged citizens in a global and diverse society.


On Leadership “The Johnson Scholarship is built around the emblematic theme of leadership and integrity. It is what has defined Washington and Lee. It is our legacy and our past. It will be our future.” Washington and Lee President Ken Ruscio is a W&L alumnus and distinguished scholar in the study of democratic theory and public policy. Throughout his career, Dr. Ruscio has held various positions at W&L, including dean of freshmen; professor of politics; and associate dean of the Williams School of Commerce, Ecnomics, and Politics.

Alicia Bargar

Spartanburg Day School Spartanburg, S.C.

Matthew Carli Saratoga Springs Senior High School Greenfield Center, N.Y.

“Leadership is not limited to a few ‘Great Men,’ but is displayed by regular people who use their time and talents to further a cause. There are exemplary people in every community—the soup kitchen directors, the schoolteachers, the Salvation Army volunteers—who achieve great things through hard work and a strong belief in what they wish to accomplish. It is these people, more than famous names, who are making a difference in people’s lives.”

“Col. John Boyd (an Air Force pilot who championed a new way for the military to more effectively use the planes it had and to alter the design and construction process for new aircraft) was a truly original American leader. Though he never achieved an authoritative military rank, his fierce independence, coupled with conviction and patriotism and backed with intelligence, enabled him to create a sphere of influence to bring about change.”

Abbie Caudill

“The term ‘leader’ has become a cliché. Anyone in power is called a leader, but the true meaning of the word is so much more than that. A leader faces hardship, rises above it and pulls others up with him or her. A leader is someone who does not need recognition from outsiders, because the look of appreciation from those he or she has helped is more than enough.”

Urbana High School Urbana, Ohio

Maggie Holland International Baccalaureate School at Bartow High Bartow, Fla.

“After analyzing the way in which my principal transformed my rural school and impacted both staff and students, I came to this conclusion about the definition of leadership: Leadership is the ability to take a dream, a far-reaching vision, and turn it into a reality. A clearly defined vision, a proactive approach, the ability to motivate and empower, the persistence to follow through on ideas and good character are the elements that combine synergistically to form outstanding leaders.”


Amanda Lane

Willowbrook High School Lombard, Ill.

Joseph Landry Saint Bernard’s Central Catholic High School New Ipswich, N.H.

Nathaniel Reisinger

“There is a lack of youth leadership in today’s world—both in a political sense and a worldly sense—and that is the problem we face. However, not all of the blame can be placed on this generation. Between the lack of objective facts on news stations and in political campaigns, it is no wonder that our youth lack political prowess and understanding. My generation must take responsibility and lead their peers into the future through the search for the truth.”

“Effective leadership is neither a common feature nor an easy accomplishment, but when present, it makes the world a better place. Whether it is exhibited by the foreman of a gang of prisoners, a Catholic nun in the impoverished city of Calcutta, the chief justice of the Supreme Court or any other individual who has the necessary qualities of courage, willingness to sacrifice and good judgment, leadership is essential to the survival of any community.”

“Jason Varitek, catcher for the Boston Red Sox, is one of the most impressive leaders I have ever witnessed. He is unmistakably in charge of that team, even though he is never the best player on the field. There are often team captains, but Varitek is only the third player in the modern baseball era to have actually worn a captain’s jersey, a testament to his teammates’ confidence him.”

Urbana High School Urbana, Ohio

Kelly Ross

Maine-Endwell Senior High Endicott, N.Y.

Nicholas Kordonowy Bishop Verot High School Fort Meyers, Fla.

Robert Vestal

Memphis University School Memphis, Tenn.

Chenxiaoyang “Annie” Zhang Salem High School Canton, Mich.

“I attended a leadership conference and a keynote speaker reminded us, ‘To whom much is given, much will be expected.’ The gift of strong leadership qualities is both a blessing and a curse; there are certainly many burdens that come with this endowment. The most celebrated leaders of the past, and those who will come in the future, will be able to overcome these burdens and use their strong character for the benefit of others. Leadership is the gift given to the few, to touch the lives of the many.”

Throughout its history,

“I enjoy reading and informing myself about what is happening today, while simultaneously looking back into the history of the world and trying to make connections. Like Descartes, I don’t blindly accept other people’s opinions and perceptions, such as the perception that the world has gotten worse over time. I have reached the conclusion that the world gets better with time, that people are fundamentally good, and that I have a responsibility to contribute my singular talents for the continual betterment of mankind.” “Many students at my school labored under the false impression that if they did not take AP chemistry, they should stay far away from all chemistry. I wanted them to have an opportunity to explore chemistry more deeply and maybe discover a love for the subject. I introduced a plan to get more students interested: school-wide demonstrations of an explosive nature. The AP Chemistry class only had to blow up a pumpkin and suddenly the whole school was interested. Thus, the AP chemistry class became the nucleus of a new service-oriented Chemistry Club, and I became its founder and president.” “I founded the Debate Team during my sophomore year, but by the end of the year I was on the brink of quitting. I couldn’t organize my thoughts into arguments, I had no idea what to ask during cross-examination and I wasn’t familiar with the language. It was an embarrassing situation that made me lose faith in myself as a speaker and, most importantly, as a leader. I continually challenged myself by making more speeches and asking more questions. Looking back, I am thankful for my failures because they have made me more conscious of my actions as a leader.”

Washington and Lee University has

been shaped and advanced in its mission by generous gifts. The school’s first major endowment, George Washington’s 1796 donation of James River Canal stock, valued at $20,000, was the largest gift to any educational institution at that time. The Johnson gift of $100 million in 2007, endowing scholarships, faculty positions, and programming with a focus on leadership, affirms the University’s historic values and extends its reach farther and wider than ever before.


On Service and Self

“I never knew I’d be able to make an impact on my little piece of the world though my passion for shopping. A frequent thrift shopper myself, I know that finding cute, teen-friendly clothes at our thrift stores is a challenge. So it hit me: why not open a section inside Waterfront Thrift Store (which generates funds for the homeless) designed for teens and by teens that provides trendy clothes at a cheap price and encourages recycling? I’ve learned a lot about my community and what it takes to see a project through to the end.

Mary Bush

Pensacola High School Pensacola, Fla.

“Because they were selected for leadership potential and academic talent, Johnson scholars will enliven discussion in every classroom and invigorate campus life, from athletics to research to service. The Johnson professors in history and in entrepreneurship will bring new expertise in leadership, integrity, creative ventures, and problem solving.”

Lizzie Engel

Bryan Station High School Lexington, Ky.

Beyond funding the scholarships,

“Even though it might not sound like a lot, four days can seem like an eternity. They were the worst four days of my life: stressful and scary. But they were also the most exhilarating and rewarding four days I’ve ever experienced. Four days in a program called Gadna—basic training for teens with the Israeli army—were plenty long enough for me to learn a lot about myself. I am a lot stronger physically and emotionally, and I left the base with a deeper respect for myself and soldiers everywhere.”

June Aprille, provost

Keaton Fletcher Columbine High School Littleton, Colo.

the $100 million Johnson gift

supports a number of initiatives that further W&L’s commitment to leadership education. The funds endow two new professorships, both with an emphasis on leadership; establish a series of lectures and symposia designed to enrich campus dialogue and illuminate contemporary questions and issues in leadership; and fund a summer program supporting 30 rising seniors annually in pursuing internships or projects that allow them to explore leadership and to develop their own potential.

Christine Elise Hansen

Rockbridge County High School Lexington, Va.

“It was my first congress and only my second varsity debate, and I was beside myself with panic. But I had a duty—to myself and to my school— to make a perfect speech, to win points and win honor for myself. I reminded myself that I had trained for this moment, that I was a public speaker and that no one and nothing could frighten me. I began and did not stop until my three minutes were up. Ironically, when I set aside my personal fear so I could win glory and speaker points for my team, I gained glory for myself.” “I arrived in Peru (for a mission trip) excited, hopeful, but also uncertain. A new language, a new culture, a new adventure all lay waiting to be explored. But what if I emerged unchanged? I thought I was going to Peru to move a lot of rocks and prepare a building site, but my experience taught me that although a pile of rocks and a week of very sore shoulders may not change the world, the love that inspires us to shovel and sweat can.”


Riley Jordan

Northwest Rankin High School Brandon, Miss.

Stephanie Malaska Eastside Catholic High School Redmond, Wash.

Michael Novack St.Peter’s High School Galion, Ohio

Lauren Schultz Hopkinton High School Hopkinton, Mass.

“I babysat Destin, a child with cerebral palsy, and I learned a lot about myself from watching him. I used to feel sorry for disabled people and what they have to go through, but I learned that they do not want us to feel sorry for them and want to be treated like everyone else. Destin taught me that while life might throw you a curveball, you have to take the hit and keep on going. Destin has turned me into the man I am today, and my experience with him has changed my attitude toward life.”

“Who in their right mind would put a few small pieces of leather on a 1,500 lb. animal, then sit on its back and expect to be in charge? My time with my horse, Allie, taught me a great deal more than just how to ride: it helped me understand that humans subconsciously relate to one another in the same way I related to her. In today’s self-centered culture, we tend to overlook the nonverbal aspects of our social interactions. Though it is easy to construct an external façade of control or courtesy, our inward feelings surely influence those around us.” “When my family moved to the country 10 years ago, I was utterly unprepared for the change in lifestyle. At first, I could see only the misery of manual labor; the only thing motivating me as I lifted shovel after shovel of horse poop was the prospect of monetary compensation. But as I became acclimated to the work, I began to take satisfaction in the completion of a job. How many other kids can say they’ve fixed the soffits of a creaky old barn?”

“I was unsure of what my role would be in raising a service puppy, but I wanted to take on the challenge. Tuffy (a black lab) could be difficult, and the head trainer said I was lucky to be working with her because she was more ‘interesting’ than some of the other dogs. In the year I spent with Tuffy, she became one of the top dogs in her class, and she graduated to help someone in need. As I have helped prepare Tuffy for her future, she has helped prepare me for my own by providing me with a new insight into communication, leadership and public outreach.”

Margaret Weigel Canandaigua Academy Canandaigua, N.Y.

Bailey Yi

Ann Arbor-Huron High School Ann Arbor, Mich.

Jessie Ykimoff

Parma Western High School Spring Arbor, Mich.

“Overestimation of my readiness was the largest mistake I made when I took my rating test in riding. Although I could not obtain my C-3 rating after failing the flatwork, I wanted to try and pass the other sections and hoped to learn from the overall experience. I spent the summer concentrating on my weaknesses and when I took the C-3 later on, I passed. I believe in the old adage that says, ‘If you fall off the horse, you get back on.’ I proved to myself that a failure created an obstacle in my path to success, but not a complete barrier.” “I volunteered at a retirement home, teaching ESL to the community’s foreign residents who were studying for their naturalization exams. The residents treated us like their own grandchildren, showing their love and appreciation with a hearty embrace or an affectionate pat on the back and a kind smile that jogged memories of my own deceased grandmother. We may not have shared a common language, but we shared a willingness to communicate and connect with each other.”

“I have a friend who challenges my views on politics and religion, but also my reasoning behind who I am. She asks, ‘Why spend two hours after school running? What is the point of beating on drums? How do I live without watching the television series House?’ My friend, while pushing my patience, has taught me important things about my life. While I should always be open to learning more, I must be true to myself and my beliefs.”

Heirs to a long tradition of leadership,

the Johnson scholars

follow in the footsteps of the many W&L graduates among the top ranks of business, journalism, medicine, public service, and almost every other field. Twenty-seven have served in the U.S. Senate, 67 have served in the U.S. House, and 31 have served as governors. Four have served as Supreme Court justices and seven have been American Bar Association presidents. Forty-six have gone on to become college or university presidents.


On World Issues

Wren High School Easley, S.C.

Northside Health Careers High School San Antonio, Texas

overall, The class of 2013

William Hartog, dean of admissions and financial aid “I became keenly aware of the devastation of AIDS when I met several AIDS patients at a community benefit. Their stories piqued my interest in discovering more about HIV. I would like to go to Africa someday and witness the rapid transformation that antiretroviral medicines can have on HIV-positive people. I hope my passion for the field of medicine and medical research will allow me to be involved in finding the not-yet-discovered vaccine for the HIV virus.”

Kerry Cotter

Alexandra Fernandez

“After only two years, the Johnson Scholarship Program has had enormous impact. W&L grants assist a record 47 percent of our first-year students. The Johnson program draws worldwide attention because it seeks in its recipients the characteristics held dear by this community: scholarship, leadership, integrity, and civility.”

“I cannot help but notice the air of complacency among my peers. Where is the excitement to learn and the enthusiasm to undertake new experiences? From where I stand, it seems that my generation is missing a crucial foundation it needs for its future success. It is essential that my generation recommit to discourse and challenge each other to be exposed to new and diverse ideas. To be strong as a generation and as future leaders, we need to be inspired by our diversity and re-kindle our desire to learn.”

Mark Harris

First Colonial High School Virginia Beach, Va.

Clark Hildabrand Battle Ground Academy Brentwood, Tenn.

presidents or vice presidents, 96 publication editors, 193 varsity team captains, 28 Eagle Scouts or Gold Award Recipients, 87 students with significant community service experience, 57 with significant international experience, and 44 who are the first in their families to attend college. musicians, congressional pages and debate champions.

“As the world becomes increasingly connected by technological advances, the major problem for my generation will be the distribution of scarce resources in an industrializing world with an exponentially increasing population. We will be faced with difficult decisions concerning the structure of the free market and trade: should we limit the amount of water citizens are allowed to use? Can we justify sending millions of dollars to oppressive regimes in exchange for oil?”

“Consumerism in today’s teens has reached epidemic levels. It is a disease that threatens to snuff out the creativity and moral fiber of my generation. Luckily, the solutions are simple. Daily, meaningful social interaction and invigorating intellectual debates could mean the world to my generation.”

includes 47 class or student body

The class also includes pilots, black belts, entrepreneurs,

“The landmark Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright mandated the creation of an indigent defense system. I have done much research on Virginia’s indigent defense system and am no closer to understanding how such a system can be described as anything but grossly unfair. I want to give voice to the voiceless, to defend those poor and marginalized persons who cannot defend themselves. Some are innocent, some are guilty. But each and every one of them deserves a fair hearing.”

Ronald Magee Shawnee High School Lima, Ohio


Joseph Moravec Normal Community West High School Normal, Ill.

Katharine Price Concord-Carlisle Regional High School Concord, Mass.

“While I know I do not possess the knowledge necessary to create a government for the people of Somalia, I do feel very passionately that something needs to be done. There is no hope for the future of any nation without the prospect of peace. Somalia must find balance among its people and seek equality amongst one another’s ideals. Above all, with some advocacy from the outside, this solution should come from within.”

“I think that Marc Brown’s character Arthur Reed said it best when he proclaimed, ‘Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card.’ I have always felt this way about reading and have tried to pass on my love for reading through the Book PALS program, a nation-wide program where high school students read to young children. Book PALS has reaffirmed my belief that I can truly help to address at least one problem that afflicts our world—illiteracy. I know that I will stay involved in this activity for the rest of my life.”

Eric Rosato

Homer Senior High School Homer, N.Y.

Kathryn Stewart Myers Park High School Charlotte, N.C.

“The epidemic of obesity among youth in the U.S. is growing at an alarming rate. The facts are frightening; what is even scarier is the fact that even with proper knowledge and health education, Americans are choosing unhealthy food and lifestyles. Each Big Mac and large Coke sold is a step down the wrong path for the country. It will be up to our generation to make a fork in the road and direct the population down a different path—the one that ensures longevity and good health.”

“My generation is falling into an apathetic slump where young adults are focused solely on working to earn as much money as they can as quickly as possible, and few are working for the greater good. Not many of my peers realize that there’s a world out there that’s bigger than us, or they realize it and just don’t care. This lack of personal accountability is a daunting obstacle to face. But I’m trying to help others value service and recognize the importance of moving beyond superficial immediate gratification.”

The Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity is evolving in remarkable ways. The Johnson Lecture Series is bringing prominent scholars, authors and public figures to campus to discuss pressing issues of the day. In the summer of 2009, the pilot program for the new Johnson Opportunity Grants helped W&L undergraduates travel to Germany, Italy, Peru, Lebanon, New York City and Washington for internships, research projects and learning experiences that are transforming their lives.

Johnson Program Director and Associate Provost Bob Strong has taught at W&L since 1989, serving as politics department head for 16 years. His research focuses on the presidency and modern American foreign policy, and his published work includes books on Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter.

On Learning


“To the modern world, knowledge is straight facts. Knowledge is temporarily important. Knowing enough is plenty. But if we continue memorizing instead of learning, we will not allow our society to progress. Ingenuity will stagnate.”

Sasha Doss

Claire Oliver

Bassett High School Collinsville, Va.

Paige Gance Wilton High School Wilton, Conn.

Vera Higgs Pine View School Sarasota, Fla.

George Washington High School Charleston, W.V. “I had the privilege of tutoring Mayra, a fifth-grader from Costa Rica. Her teacher’s inability to ensure basic understanding of class material left Mayra forgotten and falling behind. Around the county, schools are letting down motivated students like Mayra every day. My influence extends to a few individuals like Mayra, and the only person whose education I have complete control over is my own. It would be a dishonor to students like her not to take advantage of my educational opportunities.”

“The incredible magic and power of the piano has governed my life for the past 11 years, allowing me to express my deepest emotions and granting me inexplicable joy. Keeping classical music alive in our American culture, despite the popularity of rap and hip-hop, has become a cause that I hold very close to my heart. I believe that classical music creates a well-rounded, cultural person and allows an individual to explore the minds of the geniuses before us.”

of the 2,075 applicants for the johnson scholarship,

Vergil Parson

Polytech Prep Country Day School New York, N.Y.

Kayla Welch

selected as finalists on the basis of their potential to contribute to the intellectual and civic life of the Washington and Lee community and to the world at large. Factors weighed included academic record, writing samples, teacher references, and records of leadership, citizenship, and involvement campus for interviews with faculty, student leaders, and administrators; their selection was truly a group effort. Our entire community welcomes them to W&L.

“For the past nine years I’ve been occupied with learning a dead language. Latin, as my mother says, is something alien and mysterious, a secret locked away in books. Latin is purely academic and hard. Latin, as held by some circles, is one discipline on which Discipline can be built. The human mind has walls and can hold only so much. I hope any mental furniture I install will be good. Classics, for me, is good furniture.”

“True education has to be more than shuffling passively through preconceived formulas. To know how something works is important, but, as the writer Jack Kerouac believed, it is even more essential to dig actively into the subject matter and know why it functions. Communicating one’s beliefs freely and openly is a vital form of learning that includes, but also transcends, the classroom.”

Beaver County Christian School Beaver Falls, Pa.

211 were

in non-academic activities. The finalists were invited to

“Ever since I took my first physiology class, I have considered the human body inspirational art. I want not only to become a surgeon, but to become a medical researcher, too. I am fascinated by the subtle chemistry of the intricate, inextricably layered processes that maintain the form of this masterpiece. I want to study them, to analyze them. But most of all, much like an art conservationist, I want to preserve this ‘art’ and to ensure its proper function through medicine.”

Uri Whang

Houston High School Collierville, Tenn.

“I had a former notion that being particularly smart in a subject, such as biology or chemistry, defined succeeding intellectually. However, I have realized that such assumptions are not always accurate. Even Socrates, who once said, ‘I think, therefore I am’ assumed that those who have the ability to think are explicitly able to communicate those thoughts. I hope to broaden my range of studies and become a more profound thinker.”


— the class of 2013 —

The Johnson Scholarship Program has drawn widespread attention to Washington and Lee from the world’s top student leaders. The 6,222 students who applied for admission represented 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and 84 countries. In its academic record, citizenship and leadership experience, the 472-member class of 2013 is among W&L’s most accomplished. history

Distinctive Features

Need-based aid

The ninth-oldest school in the country, Washington and Lee University recognizes and embodies the direct contributions of two of the most influential figures in American history. George Washington’s 1796 gift of James River Canal stock ensured the fledgling school’s survival; Robert E. Lee’s presidency, 1865–70, brought innovation and national recognition to the school.

Honor System—entirely studentrun; based on the fundamental principle that students attending Washington and Lee will not lie, cheat, steal, or otherwise violate community trust.

To ensure that a W&L education is available for all deserving students regardless of their financial background, all admitted students applying for financial aid by the relevant deadline (see datesanddownloads) will have their institutionally determined financial need fully met with grants, not loans.


Undergraduate—1,750 students from 49 states (85 percent from outside Virginia), representing citizenship in 50 countries Ratio of men to women is 50:50 Ethnic minorities: 14 percent The School of Law—400 students faculty

Of the 198 undergraduate faculty members, 95 percent hold doctorates or terminal degrees. The student-faculty ratio is 8:1. The average class size is 16. Twentyeight percent of classes have fewer than 10 students, 90 percent have fewer than 25 students, and 97 percent have fewer than 30 students.

Curriculum—W&L is the only leading liberal arts college to have a nationally accredited journalism program or a nationally accredited business school, and it is one of the few offering an engineering program. Speaking tradition—as a matter of civility and mutual consideration, members of the W&L community say “hello” to one another— whether passing on the historic Colonnade on the way to class or meeting in the dining hall of the brand-new Elrod Commons Academic calendar—12-12-4: two 12-week terms; one fourweek spring term to allow for focused study, research, travel, or internships. financial aid, scholarships

W&L is spending more than $26 million on aid in 2009-10; 47 percent of first-year students receive grant assistance from W&L.

Johnson scholars

The prestigious new Johnson Scholarship Program provides awards of at least tuition, room, and board for up to 44 students in each class on the basis of academic achievement and leadership potential. More information about the Johnson Scholarship Program and the other components of the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity is available at contact us

Washington and Lee University Office of Admissions Lexington, VA 24450-2116 (540) 458-8710 (540) 458-8062 fax

In compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and all other applicable non-discrimination laws, Washington and Lee University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran’s status, or genetic information in its educational programs and activities, admissions, and with regard to employment. Inquiries may be directed to the Provost, June Aprille, Washington Hall, (540) 458-8418, who is designated by the University to coordinate compliance efforts and carry out its responsibilities under Title IX, as well as those under Section 504 and other applicable non-discrimination laws. Inquiries may also be directed to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education. W&L 10/09


(540) 458-8710

Johnson Report 2009  

Introducing Washington and Lee's Johnson Scholars in the Class of 2013

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