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Third consecutive EHS senior receives prestigious Jefferson Scholarship to attend University of Virginia

Aerial view of Kuhlman stadium with water tower in foreground.

Edina High School (EHS) senior Ben Gustafson has been selected as a recipient of the prestigious 2018 Jefferson Scholarship at the University of Virginia (UVA). He is one of 36 recipients worldwide, selected through a rigorous process and from among nearly 2,000 nominated students.

In addition to receiving the full cost of attending UVA for four years, Jefferson scholars benefit from a number of enrichment programs sponsored by the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, including travel abroad, career networking activities, an outdoor challenge program, and a leadership speaker series. The total value of the scholarship exceeds $280,000 for out-of-state students.

Gustafson navigated a highly competitive, multi-stage selection process. His initial nomination form included multiple short essays on various topics. He was then interviewed by UVA alumni in Minneapolis, after which he was one of 116 finalists invited to visit UVA for Selection Weekend. During the four-day visit, Gustafson completed a timed essay on the topic of automation and took a logic exam, as well as attended a seminar and sat for a final interview.

The visit took place just before spring break, during which Gustafson was abroad on a trip through EHS. “I found out I’d received the scholarship about two days after Selection Weekend when I was in Spain,” he said. “Because of the time change, I received the acceptance letter early in the morning. I could barely contain myself in the small hotel room in Madrid, but I was sure not to wake my roommates.”

Gustafson is print editor-in-chief of Zephyrus, the EHS school newspaper, the president of the Spanish Club, captain of EHS varsity lacrosse, and is a member of the Student Senate and Link Crew. “I’ve had the privilege of getting to know [Ben] for the past three years as his school counselor,” said EHS counselor Taylor Johnson. “I’ve seen him push himself to obtain lofty goals year-in and year-out.”

Gustafson is the third EHS senior in a row to receive the Jefferson Scholarship - previous recipients are Zach Zamoff (2017) and Anna Cerf (2016). “EHS has provided me with so many opportunities that have helped me achieve this scholarship,” Gustafson said. “It has challenged me to be a leader in my community and as well-rounded as possible. When I arrived at Selection Weekend, I realized EHS has prepared me so well to succeed in college.”

While Gustafson does not know exactly what he wants to study at UVA, he is interested in international relations and government. “It’s such an honor to receive this scholarship,” Gustafson said. “UVA is a perfect fit for me, so receiving the scholarship made the decision even easier. I’m so excited to have [Anna and Zach] around at UVA.”