Hannah Lewis, a physics major who graduates this year, has been awarded one of the most highly selective merit graduate fellowships in the nation. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation at the University of Virginia selected Hannah as one of 12 Jefferson Fellows to receive full funding to pursue graduate studies in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at U.Va. Starting in the fall of 2016, Hannah will be a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Astronomy at U.Va.
Jefferson Fellows undergo a rigorous selection process. First they must apply for admission to U.Va. Nominations are then submitted to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation by academic department chairs. Once nominated, candidates are invited to come to Charlottesville, Virginia to participate in the Jefferson Fellows Selection Weekend. This year, nearly 60 nominees for Arts & Sciences took part in a three-day competition, which included department visits, seminars, student symposia and in-depth interviews conducted by U.Va. alumni and faculty.
“Being nominated by a department is an honor in and of itself. It is an acknowledgment of the exceptional talent and potential Hannah has in her field,” said Benjamin Skipper, the foundation’s director of the graduate program.
The 12 selected recipients boast a number of significant achievements and Hannah is no exception. During her time at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, she was a recipient of the highly competitive Paul H. Nitze Scholarship, which is given to students who have demonstrated commitment to the liberal arts and sciences through outstanding academic success and a commitment to the improvement of society through leadership and service. Hannah was named Vice President of the Class of 2016 Executive Board and co-founded St. Mary’s Shop Hop, an organization that provides transportation to all students without other means of leaving campus. She was also a member of leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa and physics honor society Sigma Pi Sigma. Hannah worked as a teaching assistant in the physics laboratory and was a tutor for a variety of undergraduate physics courses.
In addition to receiving the full cost of attending U.Va., Hannah will be given space to work and conduct research at the Jefferson Fellows Center, a state-of-the-art, LEED-certified building located on University Grounds. This unique space is designed to foster interdisciplinary dialogue among the fellows, as well as give them a space to plan, lead and participate in enrichment programming.
“We look forward to welcoming Hannah to U.Va. in the fall and are eager to see the mark she makes not only on the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, but also on the University,” Skipper said