The Ridley Scholarship Program seeks to attract Black students of the highest academic caliber and build a community of learning, leadership and legacy for Black students at the University of Virginia.
Sonya Hairston to Be Next Executive Director of the Ridley Scholarship Program
The UVA Alumni Association has selected Sonya Hairston to be the Executive Director of the Ridley Scholarship Program. She assumed the role on November 1, 2021.
The History of the Walter N. Ridley Scholarship Fund
In 1953, Dr. Walter N. Ridley earned a doctorate of education degree from the University of Virginia, becoming the first Black graduate of the University and the first Black to receive an academic doctoral degree from a traditional southern white college or university. He graduated with high honors and his pioneering achievements in desegregating the University were noted in the national and international press at the time.
During the inaugural Black Alumni Weekend in 1987, the late John Merchant – a 1958 graduate, and the first Black recipient of a Juris Doctor degree from the UVA School of Law – suggested that a scholarship be created in Dr. Ridley’s honor. What began as a $500 book award has since gown into a host of scholarships for incoming first-year and upper-class students.
Read more about the history of the fund here.
To be the premier African American scholarship organization in the nation.
Our mission is to uphold and promote the exemplary principles of our namesake and first African American graduate of the University of Virginia, Dr. Walter N. Ridley through:
Learning: To contribute to a superior learning environment by providing scholarships to African American students of the highest academic caliber.
Leadership: To represent issues of importance to African American students and Alumni.
Legacy: To create a lasting, positive contribution to the University.