Thomas Jefferson and Medal Recipients Celebrated

By: Jessica Cunnington Email
By: Jessica Cunnington Email

April 12, 2013

University of Virginia teams up with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello each year to honor Jefferson in three areas: Citizen Leadership, Law and Architecture.

President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation says every year, the awards ceremony drives home one main point.

"Anyone can change the world. Just aim high and never say never," Leslie Greene Bowman said.

Wendy Kopp received the citizen leadership medal. Kopp is the founder and CEO of Teach for America. She created the program in her senior thesis at Princeton University and spent the last 22 years bringing education to 3 million children nationwide.

"I think Thomas Jefferson would himself be so inspired to see this generation stepping up to say we're going to make education the next step in our journey to get closer to their aspirations," Kopp said.

Bowman says Jefferson was the first president to deal with terrorism. And now in 2013, the Director of the FBI, hired just one week before the September 11th attacks, is at UVa thanking Jefferson's university for everything it gave him.

"It instills in its students a sense of public service,a sense of duty to country and a sense of duty to Virginia," said Robert Mueller, who retired from his position as director this year.

The architecture medal was awarded to Laurie Olin, who designed Washington Monument Park and Bryant Park in New York City.

"He set standards for us all intellectually, he was a modernist in his day he wasn't a retrograde person he was building radically new things in the middle of the wilderness - and creating institutions like the United States of America," Laurie said.

"It's always so humbling to hear their journey and to realize the amazing potential that Jefferson's ideals inspire in all of us," said Bowman.

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