Two Steward juniors selected as Richmond Forum Scholars

Only five area students were selected for this highly competitive honor

By Kendall Shamus ‘20

Two Steward juniors, Cameron Jarvandi and Sonali Sanjay, have been selected as Richmond Forum Scholars. This program is highly competitive: only five students across the entire city are selected for the Scholars program and Steward is the only school from which two Scholars were selected.

The mission of the Richmond Forum is “to bring leaders from the world stage to our stage in Richmond — to expand horizons, stimulate conversation, and inspire our community.” This year the speakers are Captain Scott Kelly, Tina Fey, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Ian Bremmer, and Dr. Temple Grandin.

The Richmond Forum Scholars program engages high school students in the Forum, and it is rare for two students to come from the same school. When selected as a Scholar, the students serve as greeters, check in guests, escort the speakers, and introduce them to area students in the Student Viewing Room.

Upper School history teacher Greg Young has helped build interest in the Richmond Forum among Steward students. In 2014, when he started teaching at Steward, he formed a club for students to attend Forum events together. They meet before going to see the speaker, discuss any questions they might have, and also create questions they might want to ask the speaker. This club is separate from the Scholars program, which runs through the Richmond Forum, but Mr. Young has recommended students to apply for the Scholars program.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our students to engage with some really amazing people—not just from the speakers standpoint, but from all over," Mr. Young said. 

Sonali and Cameron were both intrigued by this program, which led them to apply. “It seemed like a really cool opportunity to get to work with all these distinguished people,” Cameron said. “I thought I would learn a lot and I am really excited I got in!”

Sonali explained, “The Richmond Forum is such a legacy within the Richmond community. Growing up, I would always hear about the famous figures coming to our city and how much of an impact they had on their audiences. I went to my first Richmond Forum event last year, and after hearing Glenn Close speak, I was able to feel the positive energy in the room and truly understand why the Richmond Forum was such a coveted event. After I found out about the Scholars program, I knew I wanted to apply and get to meet my idols in real life, while also developing my networking skills.”

Sonali reflected on how her time at Steward helped her prepare for this opportunity. “Throughout my entire application experience, I have received so much support from Mr. Young, Mrs. [Heather] Jeter, Mrs. [Jen] Wilkerson, Mrs. [Sarah] Dwelle, and many other wonderful faculty members!” she said. “Mr. Young, Mrs. Dwelle, and Mrs. Jeter encouraged me to apply for the Forum opportunity, and Mrs. Wilkerson helped me so much with the deadlines and dropping off the application. Steward prepares their students for so many situations, especially interviews. From my scholarship interviews in eighth grade all the way to my Entrepreneurship presentation at The Martin Agency, Steward has prepared me for high-stress situations and how to deal with them calmly and confidently. The number of clubs and opportunities at Steward helps students to not only acquire an impressive resume, but also to learn new skills and compete. This helps to distinguish Steward students in application pools, as they are not only well-rounded, but also capable of articulating themselves and their thoughts. I am so grateful for the wonderful support structure at Steward!”

Mr. Young believes that Sonali and Cameron have many qualities that made them stand out from the other applicants. “I think they went in for their interviews and were noticed very quickly as students who want to engage speakers about topics that affect the global community — not just here in Richmond — and discuss issues that affect people everywhere,” Mr. Young said. “They want to try and make the world a better place by adding their opinions and being heard.”

Congratulations to Sonali and Cameron for this amazing accomplishment! The Steward community cannot wait to hear about all you learn and experience this year.





Copyright 2019 The Steward School

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