Icing on the Cake — Murray Scholars Get Second Helpings of Dessert

Admit It!  You’re good…like really, really good.  Next to “wicked smart” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of you.  For those students, we offer the Murray Scholarship; a tuition scholarship and four-year academic program designed to honor the best and brightest students in the state and nation with monies and opportunities worthy of their exceptional intelligence and talents.

Murray Scholars will work closely with faculty mentors to design their own cross-disciplinary course of study culminating in a senior capstone project.  They get priority in course selection throughout the four years at W&M, and they have the opportunity to study abroad for a semester at Oxford University.  Scholars will take part in special events and programs, including meetings with the leading artists, scientists, politicians and humanitarians who visit campus.  In recent years, these have included the secretary general of the United Nations, several secretaries of state, film stars and directors, leading geneticists and AIDS researchers, Nobel prize-winning physicists and ambassadors from around the world.  And as if all that wasn’t enough, Murray Scholars receive $5,000 in research grants and significant tuition monies.  Virginian students receive a full-ride.  Out-of-state recipients receive the equivalent amount of money (in-state tuition, room and board and fees – this year just over $22,000) towards their cost of attendance.

So how exactly do you get to take a bite of that wonderfully delicious slice of merit scholarship?  Every student who applies to W&M is considered for the Murray award.  Because this is our top merit scholarship it is reserved for the absolute most outstanding students in our applicant pool.  Murray Scholars generally graduate as the top students in their class, they have exhausted the curricular offerings at their high school, they have over a 1500 SAT (Critical Reading + Math)/34 ACT and they have accomplishments outside the classroom that would make Nobel-prize winners jealous (or at least they’re well on their way to doing so).  Previous candidates have appeared on Jeopardy!, received patents for inventions, done cutting-edge research at some of the nation’s most prominent think tanks, sung with the Vienna Boys’ Choir…you get the point.  Those who we consider to be Murray material (generally about 65-80 applicants) are contacted and asked to write a second essay (generally the prompt is written by W&M’s current Murray Scholars).  From there we narrow the group down to 20 finalists who are invited to a weekend on campus where they learn more about the program and present to the faculty.  From there we select four recipients (generally two Virginians and two out-of-state students).

So there you have it; the merit scholarships we award.  Remember however, that finding the right fit for the next four years is the primary goal; getting a scholarship is merely a bonus.  Not receiving a merit award from W&M – especially given the limited number available – does not mean we didn’t love your application (we admitted you after all).  Our scholars and non-scholars take the same classes, join the same clubs, live in the same residence halls.  Scholarships allow us to reward the highest levels of accomplishment but do not define our students.

Being admitted is the dessert you’ve earned for your years of hard work.  A scholarship is merely icing on the cake.

Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Senior Assistant Dean of Admission

Categories: Admission, Faculty & Staff Blogs
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