More than 70 of the brightest applicants of the incoming freshman class flew into Richmond on April 2 as part of the Richmond Scholars Program visit to determine whether UR was a good fit for them.

The Richmond Scholars Program is the university’s merit-based award, given to top students who apply before Dec. 1. The scholarship, which is divided into four designations -- Boatwright, Science, Artist and Oldham -- can cover from full tuition to full tuition plus room and board.

“Scholars are thoughtful, they are committed, they are eager and wonderful learners,” said Dr. Jennifer Cable, director of scholars and fellowships. “It’s super selective.”

Recipients are chosen through a highly selective process in which the admissions office sends the applications of top candidates to a scholars-selection committee. The committee then reviews applications and interviews final candidates, who, if selected, are invited to visit the campus.

“The main goal of the visit is for our award winners to determine, ‘Is this the best school for me?’” Cable said. “And if it is, dynamite.”

During the visit, the prospective students were housed with current scholars from Sunday until Tuesday, which allowed them to interact with the campus in the hopes that they decide to commit to UR.

Cable said that in some cases, Richmond was not high on the scholars' radars, and that Ivy League universities were typically the program’s biggest competitors.

“I wasn’t that sold [in coming to UR],” Maria Fernanda Navarro, a WC ‘20 scholar, said. “There were other better-known universities I was accepted to.”

The program covered the cost of traveling to and from the university and provided ample entertainment and activities for the scholars, such as ice cream socials, Q&A sessions with current scholars, formal dinners and the chance to attend classes.

“The class I went to this morning was really interesting,” prospective student and scholar Maiana Russell said. “It was the puzzles and paradoxes class, and it was mind-blowing.”

Many scholars are drawn to the sense of community that the program fosters, as well as the perks offered to scholars throughout their four years, Cable said. These include priority class registration, a specialized academic adviser, leadership positions on the Scholar Council and access to renowned speakers through the Sharp Viewpoint Speaker Series. Scholars can also apply for a $3,000 stipend for any activity that could enhance the academic experience.

“That helped sway the balance, the utilitarian calculus, in my head,” Chelsey Davidson, a WC ‘17 scholar, said.

This year, a total of 80 prospective students admitted as Richmond Scholars visited. Admissions officials calculate that around 45 students will enroll. Currently, there are a total of 173 scholars of all designations on campus.

“I realized I was part of a very special group of people,” Navarro said. “They have, so far, encouraged me to be the best person I can be.”

Contact contributor Sabrina Escobar at