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Three R-MA Graduates Head to UVA as Echols Scholars

From left to right, Echols Scholars William Wong, Eva Bogdewic, and Johnny Wong, Randolph-Macon Academy Class of 2016.

Three Randolph-Macon Academy seniors have earned spots in the coveted Echols Scholars Program at the University of Virginia: Eva Bogdewic, Johnny Wong, and William Wong. All three are day students at Randolph-Macon Academy; brothers Johnny and William Wong are from Front Royal, and Eva is from Rileyville.

The Echols Scholar Program is a selective program—on average only 225-250 students are offered a position in the program each year. According to the University of Virginia website (http://echols.as.virginia.edu/), the program “is predicated upon the Jeffersonian ideal of freedom of inquiry and the development of critical thought. It offers special opportunities to undergraduates in the College of Arts & Sciences whom we believe are among the University's most intellectually curious, broad thinking, and self-motivated students and its most avid learners.” 

Among the “special opportunities” is an exemption from the core course requirements within the College of Arts & Sciences. This is offered because most Echols Scholars have fulfilled these requirements through dual-enrolled classes or AP classes before entering UVA. Echols Scholars are also encouraged to take specialized higher-level classes as soon as they begin their college career. 

In addition, Echols Scholars enjoy the benefit of having faculty advisors who play a more aggressive advisory role than is typical, as UVA has found that the total freedom to select courses can sometimes be overwhelming to students. The students also receive priority registration for classes and board together in a dorm reserved for the Echols Scholars and other honors students. Echols Scholars also have the opportunity to “define a course of study that will permit attainment of academic and career goals that fall outside existing majors or interdisciplinary programs within the college.” 

The Randolph-Macon Academy students are excited to be a part of the program, although none of the three were really aware of the program before their acceptance. 
“I had no idea what it was,” Eva admitted. After she reviewed the information, however, it swayed her decision on what college to attend. “UVA is setting me up for success, so that’s where I need to go,” she explained. “I feel very honored and humbled, and blessed, to be part of something so unique.”

“Before I was accepted into the Echols Scholars Program, I had a faint idea that it was some sort of prestigious program for select students in the College of Arts & Sciences,” said Johnny. “I am surprised and incredibly honored to be accepted into such a program.”
Both Johnny and William said what they were most excited about is being exempt from standard course requirements and are instead free to take courses that are relevant to their majors and their interests. 

“I’m really looking forward to having access to a lot of research opportunities,” said Eva, “and professors I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. And I think it’s awesome how you can design your own major.” In fact, Eva might take advantage of the latter program; although she is considering a major in biochemistry, she is also looking into the possibility of combining cognitive science and neuroscience to create her own major.

The track record of the three students show a level of talent and interest that seems well-matched for the Echols Scholars program. All three are members of the National Honor Society, the National English Honor Society, and various other subject-specific honor societies. They also played sports, and of course stood out academically among their peers.

The Wong brothers both attended Hilda J. Barbour Elementary School before transferring into R-MA beginning in the sixth grade. William, who skipped second grade, has been a member of the varsity swimming team for four years, and has been heavily involved in journalism. In fact, his senior awards included the Journalism Medal and the Yearbook Editor Award. In spite of his interest in journalism—an area in which he plans to continue—he is also considering majoring in computer science or accounting. 

Johnny, meanwhile, ran cross-country and played tennis, and joined the Alpha Readers Book Club, of which he became the president. His talent in the humanities was recognized with the Boyd M. Guttery ’45 Humanities Medal, awarded during Class Night. Yet his intended major is science-related—perhaps biology—with the intention of eventually attending graduate school and perhaps becoming a doctor. Johnny is excited about the research opportunities available at UVA, as well as exploring internship opportunities; he also looks forward to learning about new opportunities, such as UVA’s Entrepreneurial Club.

Eva has been a stand-out in the drama department, playing the leading roles as “Sandy” in Grease in her sophomore year and “Jesus” in Godspell in her senior year. She has also been a member of the R-MA acapella group, The Stingers, and performed with the R-MA Chorus as well. This year, she was the Unarmed Regulation Commander for the R-MA Drill Team, the president of the National English Honor Society and the Vice President of the National Honor Society, as well as a leader in Cadets in Action. In addition, she was a cheerleader and played on the varsity soccer team. Her awards during Class Night included the Outstanding Choral Musician Medal, the Drama Medal, the English medal, the Boyd M. Guttery ’45 Humanities Medal, and the Athena Medal. Eva was also recognized for receiving an Army ROTC scholarship to UVA, and will be part of the Army ROTC Cavalier Battalion. She added that she also hopes to join one of UVA's famous acapella groups.

“We are proud of our three Echols Scholars,” said Randolph-Macon Academy Upper School Academic Dean Jonathan Ezell. “We all know how competitive it is to earn entrance into the University of Virginia. However, to have three students selected in the University of Virginia's prestigious Echols Scholar program is a credit to the students we work with and the excellence of our school. These students will look forward to all the University of Virginia has to offer.”  

 

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