Richmond Forum Scholars

The Scholar Program

Each year, five of the Richmond region’s highest achieving and most impressive high school juniors are selected to work behind the scenes at America’s largest nonprofit speakers series as Richmond Forum Scholars. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that showcases the best students in our region.

Applications for the 2024 – 2025 class of Richmond Forum Scholars are now open. All materials are due by May 20. Details below.

Engage With Prominent Leaders

As a Richmond Forum Scholar, you will interact directly with the Forum’s visiting speakers. Past speakers have included Barack Obama, Tina Fey, Russell Wilson, and many more. You will also meet and network with prominent local leaders in business, education, the arts, technology, and politics.

You will staff VIP speaker receptions, serve as a greeter and check in sponsor guests, escort speakers and other event personnel, act as a runner when required by staff, and complete other assignments, as needed, to support each program.

Scholar Tahlia Wright backstage with John Lithgow at his program on March 18, 2023.

Build Leadership & Facilitation Skills

Scholars are the facilitators of the Forum’s Student Room in the Altria Theater. You will introduce the speaker, moderate a Q&A, and provide on-screen remarks to the audience in the main theater and online.

Scholar Jada Oakcrum introducing H.R. McMaster to the Student Room at his program on November 12, 2022.

Application Requirements

  1. Be a high school junior attending a public or independent school located in the Richmond region (Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico, City of Richmond).
  2. Have a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
  3. Commit to attend an orientation session and to serve for the entire evening at all five Richmond Forum programs.
  4. Submit a completed Richmond Forum Scholar application packet, including the application, a résumé, a letter of recommendation, and a video essay.

Apply to the 2024 – 2025 class

Applications for the 2024 – 2025 class of Richmond Forum Scholars are now open. All materials are due by May 20.

To be considered, applicants must complete all the following steps and submit files to by 11:59 p.m. on May 20.

  1. The application (Google Form)
  2. Your current résumé
  3. A 2 – 2 ½ minute video message detailing your specific interest in one of the upcoming program topics or speakers shared via Google Drive or Dropbox
  4. One confidential letter of recommendation from one of your high school teachers or coaches who knows you well. This letter should address your academic proficiency, leadership ability, communication skills, and extracurricular activities. The teacher should submit the letter directly to The Forum.
  5. Parent/guardian signed transportation waiver and media release

“The best thing about The Richmond Forum is that it gives people of all ages the chance to learn for the sake of learning … With every night at The Forum, I’ve grown more appreciative and encouraged by humanity. I am inspired by the incredible efforts The Forum and its partners invest in future generations through its many student programs.”

Morgan Rhudy, 2018 – 2019 Scholar

Past Scholars

2023 – 2024

Eathan Ligon, Manchester High School

Marie Lofty, Open High School

Carter Nohl, Glen Allen High School

Maya Shuman, Cosby High School

Jai Spicer, Collegiate School

2022 – 2023

Nina Argel, Monacan High School

Jada Oakcrum, Hanover High School

Lily Waehner, James River High School

Cameron Walker, Trinity Episcopal School

Tahlia Wright, Highland Springs High School

2021 – 2022

Irma Adams, Hanover High School

Kiran Sabharwal, Douglas Freeman High School

Kishanti Barmoh, Highland Springs High School

Layal El-Ayoubi, Trinity Episcopal School

Mikal Banks, The Steward School

2020 – 2021

Abhay Duggirala, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School

Eshan Vishwakarma, J.R. Tucker High School

Joseph Chambers, Douglas Freeman High School

Maddy Boger, James River High School

Sai Chebrolu, Henrico High School

2019 – 2020

Amal Ali, Mills E. Godwin High School

Ryan Henry, J.R. Tucker High School

Quin Smith, Patrick Henry High School

Drew Thompson, The Steward School

Andrew Van De Putte, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School

“Interacting with high-profile people, such as Alan Alda and Robert Mueller, greatly increased my sense of professionalism and my confidence in speaking to others, and has also made me more conscientious about checking the news and being an informed citizen.”

– ZOe Nelson, 2014 – 2015 Scholar

2018 – 2019

Nawal Abbasi, St. Catherine’s School

Brandon Brown, Atlee High School

Cameron Jarvandi, The Steward School

Morgan Rhudy, James River High School

Sonali Sanjay, The Steward School

2017 – 2018

Carlos M. Brown Jr., Henrico High School

William Chambers, Douglas S. Freeman High School

Lawrence Jia, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School

Tolliver Mance, Trinity Episcopal School

Yashodhara Varma, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School

2016 – 2017

Iram Amir, The Steward School

Morgan Canaan, Douglas S. Freeman High School

Pablo Gómez García, James River High School

Julia Gibson, Douglas S. Freeman High School

Fuller Wise, St. Christopher’s School

2015 – 2016

Peyton Badura, James River High School

Frederick Hayton, James River High School

Nadine Lin, Douglas S. Freeman High School

Matty Pahren, Collegiate School

Dharaa Rathi, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School

2014 – 2015

McKenna Brady, James River High School

Logan Brown, J.R. Tucker High School

Dylan Lackey, James River High School

Zoe Nelson, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School

Reshini Premaratne, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School

2013 – 2014

Owen Ayers, Trinity Episcopal School

Elise Fuller, St. Catherine’s School

Syeda Haider, Thomas Jefferson High School

Nikhith Kalkunte, Midlothian High School

Benjamin Moore, St. Christopher’s School

Support Our Student Programs

Your gift empowers the next generation of Richmond’s leaders by sustaining our student programs, which include the Student Room, Scholars program, and Richmond Forum Speech & Debate Initiative.

110 South 15th Street
Suite B
Richmond, VA 23219

Office: (804) 330-3993
Office Hours: 9am – 5pm
Program Day: 10am – noon

Presenting powerful voices so Richmond can learn. Empowering local voices so Richmond can lead.

The Richmond Forum and its partners are proud to support the Richmond Forum Speech & Debate Initiative, a community initiative to bring speech & debate programs to all of our region’s public schools.

The Richmond Forum is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational organization.

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