applicants to the Jefferson Scholar program, annually, of which 35-40 are chosen

To Lance Hardcastle and Ceileigh Holsteen (both BSN ’20), the School of Nursing is much more than an academic institution; it’s a second home—a place not just for learning, but for community and character building.

Recipients of the prestigious Jefferson Scholarship—offered annually to just three dozen students selected from a pool of more than 2,000 applicants—the duo brings a powerful combination of merit and mettle to the School. What the School has offered them, however, is just as noteworthy.

For Holsteen, who’s wanted to work in healthcare ever since her younger brother was a patient at a pediatric hospital, it was love at first sight. On her first tour of UVA, she discovered her guide had an externship in Holsteen’s hometown of Fort Worth, Texas—a coincidence that instantly made UVA feel closer to home. It wasn’t until a personal tragedy in her first year, however, that she felt the School’s full embrace.

"UVA's changed by outlook ... I've become a better person since coming here."

Lance Hardcastle, 2018 Jefferson Scholar in the BSN class of 2020

“After the death of one my best friends from home, professor Christine Connelly let me sit in her office and cry, and even drove me directly from our final exam to the airport so I could make it to the funeral on time,” Holsteen recalls. “In one of the hardest moments of my life, she showed me that the School really is a family.”

For Hardcastle, a native of Chatham, Va., whose academic ambition is enabling him to graduate in just three years, the journey’s been personal.

“UVA changed my outlook,” he says. “I notice myself applying things I’ve learned in class to my day-to-day life. Nursing school has made me more compassionate and empathetic, and the open, accepting environment here has made me interested in different people and cultures. I’ve become a better person since coming here.”

Holsteen and Hardcastle bring their own gifts, too. Theresa Carroll, Hardcastle’s mentor and the School’s senior assistant dean for academic and student services, shares one such example: “Because Lance cares about sustainability, he wondered what it would take to get a water bottle refill station in McLeod Hall. So he put together a petition, and a couple hundred nursing students signed it, and thanks to his initiative, we have a new refill station ready for use this fall.”

Beyond their undergraduate education, both Holsteen and Hardcastle plan to become nurse practitioners, but in the meantime, they’re eager to gain a broader understanding of the healthcare system. Hardcastle hopes to work as a travel nurse in the United States or abroad—likely in Europe or South America—and Holsteen plans to explore a newfound interest in U.S. healthcare policy.

And both say they’ll carve out career paths marked by kindness and inclusivity. “Nursing school has taught me that being kind knows no racial or cultural boundaries,” says Holsteen. “I hope to leave each person I meet happier than when I met them.”


For nearly four decades, the Jefferson Scholars Foundation has offered full, four-year, merit-based scholarships to exceptional student leaders and citizens who receive leadership development courses, a rich variety of study abroad opportunities, and special access to alumni networks, in addition to full-tuition support.

  • 35–40 incoming UVA students chosen from a pool of approximately 2,000 nominees
  • $280K for non-Virginians, $150K for Virginians over four years