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Nomination, Application & Selection Process

Each October, the University of Virginia sends informational packets regarding the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. Leadership Award, including an application form, to every public and private high school principal in the Commonwealth of Virginia and requests the principal to nominate one graduating senior for the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. Leadership Award. The student must complete an application form and return it to the principal, who will write a letter of recommendation. In addition to the application form, each student will submit his or her high school transcript, including courses to be taken during the year.

Each of the high achieving student leaders are then presented to the Award Screening Committee, composed of Deans of Admission from the University of Virginia, the College of William & Mary, Washington & Lee University, Virginia Tech, and University of Richmond. The Screening Committee reviews the applications and submits 33 finalists - three from each of Virginia's 11 congressional districts - to the Award Selection Committee.

The 33 finalists are then separately interviewed over a two-day period in Richmond by the Award Selection Committee, composed of 11 citizens from throughout the Commonwealth. The Award Selection Committee selects the 11 award recipients – one from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts.

The Leadership Award seeks to reward applicants who consistently display excellence of character, qualities of leadership, devotion to duty, and academic accomplishment. While academic excellence is a consideration, the selection of award recipients emphasizes the importance of leadership and public service. Therefore, most recipients are leaders who go above and beyond their peers to improve themselves and to make a difference in the lives of others. Most recipients engage in endeavors that demonstrate their independence, initiative, courage, personal discipline, strong work ethic, commitment to community service, leadership qualities, ability to confront challenges, and pursuit of academic excellence. For example, prior award recipients:

  • Served on school honor councils;
  • Worked on political campaigns;
  • Served in student government;
  • Traveled overseas to serve others;
  • Led a morning fitness program;
  • Started charitable organizations;
  • Learned multiple languages;
  • Attended community college while in high school; and
  • Participated as captains of sports teams and academic teams.