A total of 62 outstanding high school students from 52 high schools in 15 states and the United Kingdom visited the UGA campus on Feb. 21 and 22 to interview for the university's premier undergraduate scholarship, the Foundation Fellowship.
The Foundation Fellowship finalists were chosen from more than 800 applicants and were invited to the Interview Weekend, during which they participated in faculty-led seminars, social gatherings with current Fellows and a round of interviews with senior faculty members, University of Georgia Foundation trustees, Fellows alumni and university staff. Every attendee was assured of receiving the Ramsey Honors Scholarship.
"I couldn't be more thrilled to have had these wonderful students on our campus," said David S. Williams, associate provost and director of the Honors Program, who oversees the Foundation Fellowship. "Interacting with Fellowship finalists is a highlight every year."
The finalists have an average high school GPA of 4.11 (on a 4.0 scale), an average SAT score of 1549 (critical reading and math sections only), and an average ACT score of 35. Twelve finalists have a perfect SAT score of 1600 on the critical reading and math sections, five have a perfect overall 2400 on the SAT, and five have a perfect ACT score of 36.
A scholarship community
Founded in 1972 by the University of Georgia Foundation's trustees, the Foundation Fellowship places students in a community of similarly dedicated scholars, offering a stipend that approximates the cost of attendance, a post first-year May semester study abroad program at Oxford University, individual travel-study grants, spring group travel-study, research and academic conference grants, dinner seminars with some of the university's best minds, and a mentoring program that matches Fellows with professors who share their interests.
In addition to the obvious scholastic benefits, the Fellows program emphasizes partnership, sharing of resources and ideas, and lifelong friendships. Programming such as peer mentoring, book discussions, cultural events, the opportunity to use the Fellows Library in the Moore College building and two off-campus retreats per year help promote a sense of community among the Fellows. They quickly find themselves at home on campus within a close-knit group of scholars, and, through extensive travel, they extend that experience to include global communities.
Fellow alumnus Josh McLaurin, now finishing his third year at Yale Law School, said that UGA and the Foundation Fellowship helped him and other students "craft an undergraduate career that will take you where you want to go." McLaurin said that "the Fellows experience is one I believe to be unmatched elsewhere," and that "the Fellowship gave me incredible resources, as well as the camaraderie of very intelligent, eager peers."
In-state Fellows receive an annual stipend of $10,800 and the HOPE/Zell Miller Scholarship. Out-of-state Fellows receive an annual stipend of $17,700 and out-of-state tuition waivers. In addition to their stipends and group travel-study experiences, including the summer study abroad at Oxford University and three spring break trips, Fellows also receive $9,000 in individual travel grants and $1,750 to fund research and academic conference attendance. The Ramsey Honors Scholarship represents about 75 percent of the financial benefits of the Foundation Fellowship.
In the 2013-2014 academic year, 22 first-year Fellows, seven first-year Ramsey Scholars and three third-year Mid-Term Fellows joined the program, bringing the total numbers to 87 Fellows and 27 Ramsey Scholars.
The Honors advantage
Beyond the perquisites of their scholarships, Ramsey Scholars and Foundation Fellows benefit from being members of UGA's Honors Program, one of the oldest, largest and most respected programs of honors education in the country. The UGA Honors Program provides some 2,500 students with the resources to make the most of their higher education experience, including more than 200 Honors classes a year with an average class size of 17 students, expert advice from Honors and faculty advisers, independent research opportunities, mentoring, internships, lunchbox lectures and book discussions with faculty, and the Myers Hall residential community. Honors students may participate in graduate courses and pursue a curriculum leading to combined bachelor's/master's degrees in only four years.
Through the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, administered by the Honors Program, students work with faculty members on projects that allow them to reach beyond classroom learning, pursue their passions and develop their skills. Undergraduate research opportunities abound across the curriculum, from laboratory and social sciences to humanities and the fine arts. Students can participate in faculty-mentored undergraduate research through CURO for up to a full four years.
Tracy Yang, a Fellow alumna and 2011 Rhodes Scholar (one of seven Rhodes Scholars that the Foundation Fellowship has produced), said, "The wonderful people at Honors always prioritized my personal interests, helping me to explore my own path to pursue the opportunities that were relevant to my goals." Now enrolled at the John Hopkins School of Medicine, Yang said, "In my room, I have covered one wall with photos taken during my time at UGA. As I look over them, I'm strongly reminded of the impact of UGA on my life. There are photos from spring break trips to Jordan and Costa Rica, snapshots of summers interning in New York City and countless pictures of the people I am lucky to call my closest friends."