First Impact Scholars Named

Two rising ninth graders receive $10,000 merit awards toward Upper School tuition.
Earlier this year, we introduced two new programs in Steward's Upper School that would provide students with additional opportunities for academic and leadership advancement: Impact Scholars and the Leadership Program. Both are among the first of their kind in Richmond-area independent schools and support Steward's strategic plan, Compass 2022, helping students cultivate skills that will prepare them for success in life now and in the future.

We are pleased to announce the two winners of our inaugural Impact Scholars award: Morgan Shigley '25 and Kaylyn Whiteside '25

"They are the kind of people that make an impact just by being themselves around other people," Head of School Dan Frank said, praising the winners' diverse interests and skill sets. "When you have kids like Kaylyn and Morgan who so well typify our mission —  to prepare for college and life in a community defined by robust academics, inspiration, engagement, and care — then you set the tone for the rest of the community."

Like winners of the Debbie Robson Merit Scholarship, Steward's Impact Scholars are selected based on academic merit, community service involvement, and participation in extracurricular activities. But whereas Debbie Robson Merit Scholarship winners join Steward from different schools, Impact Scholars are chosen from within the Spartan community.

Morgan, whose teachers describe her as someone who goes the extra mile to make every project shine, said she's glad she followed through with applying for the Impact Scholars award. She knew the applicant pool would be filled with other talented students, but she didn't let that stop her from trying.

"You can't be afraid of what's in the future," she said. "You just have to go for it."

Those familiar with Morgan's classwork say she's an enthusiastic participant in classroom discussion, and that her bright, friendly demeanor puts everyone at ease. In her letter of recommendation, one Middle School teacher wrote that her leadership on Steward's cross country team has garnered the respect of Middle and Upper Schoolers alike, choosing to lead by example with a "relentless positivity" that inspires others to rise to the challenge. Additionally, Morgan is the Middle School Student Council Association's historian and has served as a Middle School Ambassador for the past two years.

Kaylyn was also praised for her innate leadership abilities, which were on full display during last year's Summer Experience. As a Spartan Counselor Apprentice alongside Middle School science teacher Betsy Orgain, Kaylyn gained a reputation for the confidence with which she helped younger students adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols. Kaylyn has held other leadership positions around campus, too, including serving as co-president of the Middle School Student Council Association and participating in Steward's Model UN.

"Kaylyn is a generous young woman who treats each group with kindness and fairness. Her recognition of the dignity of each person with whom she comes into contact is truly impressive for a person her age," one of her recommendations read.

As the first two winners of the Impact Scholars award, Morgan and Kaylyn serve as exemplars of student leadership for not only future applicants, but the rest of the Steward community. In addition to their tuition awards, Morgan and Kaylyn will also matriculate into Steward's Leadership Program.

Steward's Leadership Program is a small, highly selective program for students in grades nine through 11, providing hands-on leadership education opportunities within the Richmond community. Along with the Impact Scholars program, it recognizes the past and future accomplishments of our most outstanding Upper School students while challenging them to make a positive difference on their communities and the broader world.

"By the time they finish the program, students will better be able to step into leadership roles during their senior year at Steward, in college, and beyond," Upper School history teacher and Leadership Program adviser Eliza McGehee said. 

Students enter this comprehensive three-year program either in ninth or tenth grade and spend the first two years completing cohort-based classwork that incorporates guest speakers, collaborative projects, field trips, case studies, and more into their exploration of leadership studies. The third year is reserved for a year-long capstone project in which students identify a problem in their chosen community before researching and designing a solution that showcases the skills they learned in the Leadership Program. 

"The issues facing this next generation are massive, complex, and nuanced," Ms. McGehee said. "By focusing specifically on leadership, we hope to drill down into what it takes to impact positive change, both for yourself and for others, and how to go about implementing those ideas."

Applications for entry into Steward's Leadership Program will open this coming fall for other freshmen and those students who best demonstrate academic excellence and community leadership. We congratulate Morgan and Kaylyn on becoming the first two Impact Scholars at Steward, as well as the first entrants to Steward's Leadership Program, and we look forward to seeing both cohorts grow in the years to come!

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