This year, we have continued existing programming, while experimenting with new programming to both provide intellectual stimulus and foster community among the current scholars. Long-standing programs include the Fireside Chats (organized by the Echols Council) with esteemed faculty. Eleven of these chats were held this fall, featuring UVA Dean of Students Allen Groves, world renowned political analyst Larry Sabato, decorated astronomy professor Ed Murphy, and the popular professor of Economics, Ken Elzinga among their distinguished guests. Ms. Beverly Lorig, the Assistant Director for Career & Professional Development for the Echols Program, has hosted a number of other events, including an alumni panel in which the students were treated to dinner, camaraderie, and stories and life lessons from Echols alumni. We are grateful to those of you who were able to make the time to return to UVA to connect with the current Scholars.
The new initiatives this fall have been primarily aimed at fostering a sense of both academic and social community among the scholars. For the first Echols Common Reading for incoming first years, third and fourth year Echols Scholars led discussions of the book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks with groups of first years. The overwhelmingly positive feedback received indicates the experiment was a success. In order to help rising second-year students stay connected as well as to welcome second years newly admitted to the Echols Scholars program, we hosted a “Desserts in the Dome” room, at which we invited the scholars to write notes of advice to their first-year selves.
Finally, we have been experimenting with Echols field trips, to give the students an opportunity to take a break and recharge off Grounds. This fall featured two outings titled “Do you need to Escape?” and “You will be amazed!”. For the first, we reserved a local “escape room” establishment for an evening, inviting the scholars to work together to find clues and solve puzzles to escape their locked rooms. The second field trip brought us to the largest corn maze in Virginia at the Liberty Mills. Teams of students puzzled their way through 25 acres of a giant corn labyrinth. This spring, Echols Scholars took over the local Muse Paint Bar, where they stretched their artistic muscles, and we are looking forward to an evening at Live Arts for a performance of Fun Home, and a field trip to Luray Caverns.
Escape Room (students who made it out on time!)
Alumni Career Panel
Field Trip to the Corn Maze
Echols at Muse Paint Bar