2019 Scholarship Winner


CONTACT: LeAnne Brubaker

Emily Couric Leadership Forum
to Award $30,000 Scholarship to Charlottesville High School’s
Zyahna Bryant

The Emily Couric Leadership Forum (ECLF) is pleased to announce that Zyahna Bryant, a senior at Charlottesville High School, has won the 19thannual Emily Couric Leadership Scholarship.  Bryant will receive a $30,000 scholarship.  Bryant and her fellow nominees will be recognized at the ECLF’s annual luncheon on Monday, April 15, 2019 at the Omni Hotel.

The Emily Couric Leadership Forum was established to honor the late Virginia State Senator Emily Couric.  Reflecting her legacy, the scholarships are awarded annually to encourage young women to adopt an active role in government, public issues, and policy debates affecting their communities; and to inspire them to pursue activities that will enable them to become effective leaders.  Each public or private high school in Charlottesville and Albemarle may nominate one senior girl who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in her school and community.  This year the ECLF is awarding a total of $80,000 in scholarships.  These scholarships are meant to offset costs of the recipient’s college education or another approved leadership endeavor. 

Qualities sought in the winners include:   a sense of initiative, problem-solving ability, creativity, motivational effectiveness, communication skills, listening capacity, team building ability, proven follow-through performance, and effective interpersonal skills.  The selection committee, composed of leaders representing civic organizations selected by Couric herself, believes that Bryant demonstrates leadership that has impacted society and will continue to do so in her future.

Bryant is a student activist, community organizer, and author.  She focuses her work on how race  contributes to the achievement gap and educational inequity.   She works to connect students of color with resources to overcome barriers to achievement.   She also organizes youth leaders around the conversation about  race, space, and monuments.  As a freshman, she founded the Black Student Union at Charlottesville High School and helped initiate the petition to reconsider the place of Confederate monuments in the Charlottesville community.  In the 10thgrade, Bryant’s activism led to an internship at the University of Virginia’s Carter G. Woodson Institute where she researched roots of racism.   This year Bryant published Reclaim, a collection of poetry and essays written about activism and the experience of Black girlhood.   Bryant has been featured in The New York Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Forbes and on Vice News, PBS, CNN, and BET. She has received the Princeton Prize in Race Relations for her advocacy work, and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center’s student prize.  Bryant is currently considering college offers, but knows that she will continue to “incorporate what I do in academia into politics and activism . . . It’s important to me to bring back what I learn in a way that benefits community.”

The Women’s Leadership Award acknowledges an exceptional woman who exemplifies leadership in her profession and her community, with Emily Couric herself receiving the first honor in 2001. Honored speakers in the past have included Katie Couric, Rita Dove, Sandra Day O’Connor, Caroline Kennedy, Donna Brazille, Anna Quindlen, Olympia Snow, Tina Brown, and Sylvia Earle.

This year’s featured speaker and recipient of the Emily Couric Women’s Leadership Award is Dr. Deborah McCauley, Dr. McCauley is a wildlife veterinarian and social entrepreneur. She founded VIEW (Veterinary Initiative for Endangered Wildlife) in response to a critical, missing piece in wildlife conservation – wildlife health, which is now often a greater threat than poaching and natural habitat encroachment. 

For more information about the Emily Couric Leadership Forum, please visit the website www.emilycouricleadershipforum.org.