Message from the Director, Kelsey Johnson

Dear Echols Alumni,

I am at a loss for words today, as I continue to process the events that have unfolded in Charlottesville. I am appalled and grieving — both for the utterly senseless loss of precious life and brutal injuries inflicted, and also for the violation of our university, town, and principles we hold dear.

Echols alumni are scattered across the country and the globe, but you are still part of the UVA community, and I know you are feeling the gravity of this weekend as acutely as we are in Charlottesville. I am extremely proud of our students — they have acted with tremendous bravery and altruism, and they have a remarkable resilience. Numerous Echols Scholars are already asking how they can help, and looking for ways to support their fellow students in the coming weeks.

When I was interviewing for the Echols Directorship, I was asked why I wanted the job. There were many parts of my answer, but one of them was that I believe that Echols Scholars are the leaders of the future and have the ability to change the world for good. It is too early and things are too raw to see the good that can come from evil like this, but I believe that this experience will ultimately make us stronger, more aware, more understanding, and more kind toward one another.

Students are starting to arrive at UVA for the semester, and first year students are facing an especially challenging experience. All of us at UVA will need time to heal and discuss the meaning and weight of the events that transpired over the weekend. We will work hard to make sure the students feel valued, safe, and able to nurture their strengths.


Kelsey Johnson
Director of the Echols Scholars Program
Associate Professor of Astronomy