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Magazine On-line [summer 2007]
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Around the Campus

Young Scholars program reaches 25-year milestone

It was 25 years ago when the most innovative and far-reaching scholarship program in Transylvania’s history was launched with the selection of the first students for the Thomas Jefferson Scholars Program. Renamed the William T. Young Scholars Program in 1987 in honor of its creator and major benefactor, the late William. T. Young, this program has brought more than 350 bright, highly motivated students to Transylvania who have enriched the campus environment and realized high achievement in their careers and lives.

WT Young
William T. Young

“Since its founding in 1982, this bold scholarship program has had a transforming effect on the college,” said President Charles L. Shearer. “Mr. Young believed that the program would bring exceptional students to Transy, young people who would invigorate the campus and promote an even higher standard of academic performance, and that has certainly proved to be the case. It was also his hope that the program would help encourage our most talented young people to stay in Kentucky.”

Young was in the early years of his eventual 23-year tenure (1977-2000) as chairman of the Transylvania Board of Trustees when he conceived the idea of offering full-tuition scholarships to students who would not only excel in academics but also become leaders on campus.

Mathematics professor David L. Shannon worked closely with Young to help establish the program and has seen the impact of these students over the years.

“From its inception there have been high expectations of academic excellence for the students selected for this program,” Shannon said. “These high expectations have consistently been met and often exceeded. It is common for these students to be among the leaders in classroom participation and performance, and they have often been catalysts for campus events and activities that have enriched and enhanced the intellectual ethos of the college.”

The awards were originally named the Thomas Jefferson Scholarships in honor of the third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence. It was appropriate because of Jefferson’s ties with Transylvania in the school’s early years. He was governor of Virginia in 1780 when Transylvania was established by an act of the Virginia Assembly, and he later followed the development of the college.

One recent graduate who exemplifies the program’s aims is Laura Edgington ’06, who graduated magna cum laude with a biology and chemistry double major and will begin graduate studies in the Ph.D. program in cancer biology at Stanford University this fall.

“I think the William T. Young scholars are a special group of people,” Edgington said. “My fellow scholars were some of the finest people I met on campus, and some of them are now my closest friends. Academically and leadership-wise, my standards have always been high, but having the Young Scholarship pushed me to be that much better of a person.”

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