Current Ridley Scholars

Ridley Scholarship Recipients


Class of 2018

ridley16039testTyler Ambrose, Ridley Flagship Scholar

I am a Ridley Flagship Scholar from Roanoke, Virginia, where I attended William Fleming High School and the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School. I am a Politics Honors major and History minor. Over the past summer, I interned with the Virginia Office of the Attorney General. On Grounds, I am the Senior Resident of Woody-Cauthen and Co-Chair of the Academic and Career Development Committee of the Black Student Alliance. I also serve as the Director of Book Club for the Black Male Initiative. Upon graduation in 2018, I plan to pursue a law degree.



ridley16036testBianca Decatur, Holland-Blackburn Scholar

I am an Echols and Holland Blackburn Scholar from Durham, North Carolina, where I attended Northern Durham High School. I am currently pursuing a double major in Spanish and Cognitive Science. I spent my summer interning with Vice President Lampkin’s office through the Meriwether Lewis Institute for Citizen Leadership. I am heavily involved in the Black Women’s initiative, serve as the current Outreach Chair for the University Guide Service, and plan to continue working with the Meriwether Institute for the next two years. I also work in the newly renovated Rotunda as a Student Ambassador.




ridley16016testStephanie Durham, Ridley Flagship Scholar

I was raised in McLean, Virginia, and am a College Science, Echols, and Ridley Scholar pursuing a double major in Environmental Science and Physics. I am a mentor for first year students through the Society of Physics Students, as well as a member of the Green Corner Committee of Green Grounds, which aims to implement sustainable practices in restaurants on The Corner. More generally, I am the secretary of Green Grounds. During my spring break, I participated in a student-run service project and am leading a housing and environmental conservation trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina this coming spring. I stayed in Charlottesville this summer to research the diurnal and seasonal variability of winds, temperature, and turbulence in the Shenandoah Mountains. I also started as a DJ for WXTJ, UVa’s student radio. I am continuing both these activities during the upcoming year. 


ridley16029testMicah Watson, Holland-Blackburn Scholar

I am a Holland Blackburn Scholar hailing from Wichita, Kansas. I am majoring in African-American and African Studies and Drama with an intended minor in Studio Art, concentrating in Film. A playwright, director, and filmmaker, I am working towards a career in the film and television industry, particularly as a screenwriter. Additionally, I am a Miller Arts and Echols Scholar. Outside of my coursework, I am the producer and director of The Black Monologues, the president of The Paul Robeson Players, and the Co-Worship Leader for OneWay InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.




ridley16006testJasmine Zollar, Richmond Ridley Clarence Cain Scholar

I am an Echols and Ridley Scholar from Mechanicsville, Virginia. I am double majoring in Global Development Studies and African-American and African Studies. Over the summer, I participated in the Meriwether Lewis Institute for Citizen Leadership at the University. On Grounds, I serve as a Resident Advisor (RA), the Programs Chair of the Kappa Rho Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, a Program Director at Madison House for Cavs in the Classroom, among other things. Upon graduation in 2018, I hope to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector.




Class of 2019

Triston Smith, Ridley Flagship Scholar

I am a Ridley and Echols Scholar from Keysville, Virginia. I intend to double major in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and either Neuroscience or Cognitive Science. Over the summer I interned as a photographer for Conviva Brazil(/Brasil), a growing Nongovernmental Organization focused on education in and around favelas in Jurunas, Belém in the Brazilian state of Pará. This year I will be an intern with the Gender Violence and Social Change group at the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, and I will assist Wendy J. Lynch in her research on addiction-related neurobiological changes.




 ridley16045testMichael Thompson, Richmond Ridley Clarence Cain Scholar

I am a Richmond Ridley Clarence Cain Scholar from Midlothian, Virginia. I am a graduate of the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in the City of Richmond. In high school I was an officer in the Red Cross Club and also worked closely with the Youth Philanthropy Project for two years. I have participated in the Bank of America Student Leaders program, where I interned at the Midlothian YMCA and spent a week in Washington, D.C., during which I visited Capitol Hill and spoke with several Virginia legislators. I am planning to major in biomedical engineering with an engineering business minor.






Class of 2020



Micah Harris, Ridley Reid Scholar

I am a Ridley Reid and Rodman Scholar. I’m from Stafford, VA, and am a graduate of Stafford High School and the Commonwealth Governor’s School program. In high school I was a two-year Varsity basketball Captain, as well as an all-conference athlete, with an honorable mention for all-area. I was one of the devotion leaders of our school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and was a member of the National Honor Society and Youth in Philanthropy. I was also a Wendy’s High School Heisman State Finalist. I plan to major in Electrical Engineering at UVA and am excited to get involved in the UVA community.





Christina Johnson, Holland-Blackburn Scholar

I am a Holland Blackburn Scholar from South Orange, New Jersey. I attended Columbia High School and helped provide local and offshore communities with free dental services as the Junior Board President of a grassroots charity named KinderSmile Foundation. At the University of Virginia, I plan to major in Nursing and I hope to pursue my passion for philanthropy by starting a KinderSmile club and participating in Diversity in Nursing for a Better Community (DNBC). Upon graduation, as a nurse, I will strive to care for patients on a personal level and ensure that they are being treated with the utmost medical and emotional care.




ridley16003testSydney Williams, Ridley Flagship Scholar

I am a Ridley, University Achievement, College Science, Echols, UNCF STEM Scholar, and Ron Brown Captain from Haymarket, Virginia, where I attended The Governor’s School at Innovation Park and Battlefield High School. During the summer of 2015, I conducted cancer research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York as a part of the Summer Research Experience in Cancer Science.  I was awarded “Best Poster Presentation” for my work on the role of androgen receptor in the survival of breast cancer cells. In high school, I was a Varsity Cheerleader and Cheer Captain. I was also a member of National Honors Society, National Science Honors Society, and Medical Club. I have also competed in numerous art competitions and displayed my work in exhibitions and galleries. At UVA, I plan on majoring in either Biochemistry or Human Biology. Upon graduation, I plan to attend medical school.


Class of 2021


Rikia Freeman, Inaugural Hoel-Perkins Scholar

I have been living in Suffolk, Virginia for eight years. I was born in Belleville, Illinois and moved to places like South Dakota and Las Vegas, Nevada as my father was in the Air Force.  I intend to major in aerospace engineering at UVA. My time outside of the classroom has been spent running 5ks and a half marathon and volunteering in the community as a 4-H camp counselor. The career goals I have for myself include designing spacecraft for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration which could aid in humanity’s journey to Mars or beyond.


Jolie Magenheimer, Ridley-Andrade Scholar

I am a First Year Ridley-Andrade and University Achievement Scholar from Leesburg, Virginia. I graduated from Riverside High School as part of its inaugural class. In high school, I was recognized as an All-Virginia guitarist and served as Vice President of Riverside’s National Honor Society chapter. In that role, I established a community-wide tutoring program, including other initiatives for study skills and technology literacy. I also founded a formal mentorship program for 8th graders making the transition to high school. I have presented on multiple occasions to administrators and school board members on initiatives to foster student leadership and service. This fall, I will be studying Architecture with a concentration in Design Thinking and hope to pursue my passion for mentorship with a double major in Youth and Social Innovation.  I am very excited to be a part of the UVA community.


Ja’Mel Reed, Ridley-Bryce Scholar

I am a first year Ridley-Bryce Scholar, College of Arts and Sciences, Echols, and Ron Brown Scholar. I am from Middlesex, Virginia, where I attended The Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School for Marine and Environmental Science and Middlesex High School. During the summer of 2016 I conducted research for my CBGS  project in which I analyzed the water quality and health of the counties residents. In high school, I was a Varsity Football Captain. I also competed in Varsity Basketball, Varsity Football, Track and Field, Forensics, and Scholastic Bowl. I won first place in state Forensics competition for my performance in Original Oratory. I was also President of my National Honors Society Chapter, member of Spanish National Honors Society, and President of my FBLA club. I am very excited to become a part of the UVA community. At UVA, I plan on majoring in Human Biology with a minor in Political Science. I plan on attending Medical School after my undergraduate studies.


Salem Zelalem, Ridley Flagship Scholar

I am a First Year Echols and Ridley Scholar from Burke, Virginia. I graduated from Lake Braddock Secondary School. In high school, I was a member of the National Honor Society and International Thespian Society, as well as the President of the Book Club and the Vice President of the Poetry Club. I was also a volunteer with the Democratic Party of Virginia, through which I was a Voter Registration Captain and ran events. Through a collaborative arts showcase at my school, I was able to perform a piece to open a school board meeting. I am pursuing majors in Economics and English, and am thrilled to become a part of the community at UVA.