The Public Life of Lawnies - Giving to UVA

Living on the Lawn
is one of the great honors for UVA students. Those who wish to reside in the center of the Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village go through a thorough and highly competitive selection process.

You really have to be a people person.

DeAnza Cook (Col ’17)

DeAnza Cook (Col ’17) was thrilled to serve as senior resident of the Lawn last year. As the first female African American in that position, she saw her duties as an opportunity to showcase her fourth-year home to the public and prospective students, as well as a chance to offer her own unique perspective. Like all previous senior residents, her typical day involved acting as an ambassador for the historic setting Lawnies call home.

“You really have to be a people person,” she said. “You can be walking to class and run into a tour group and they want to talk to you and see your room. Lawnies revere the way the Lawn serves as a vital epicenter of student life. I’m proud to be the first black female head resident to welcome people to the Lawn.”

A senior resident’s day-to-day responsibilities involve fireplace safety training, planning and managing internal programming such as formals and dinners, and serving as spokesperson for wider Lawn initiatives such as the Bicentennial Commission, Lighting of the Lawn, and Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn.



I’m hoping to use my room as a meeting space to mentor younger girls.

Sarah Kenny (Col ’18)

Most Lawnies agree that living on the Lawn never loses its aura of magic. On one of Cook’s first days there, she watched as the construction walls and scaffolding were removed from the Rotunda’s south side. “We were able to gather on the steps for the first time that night,” she recalled. “It was so peaceful. I felt empowered and proud and honored to be able to live in such an amazing place.”

Now, as part of a new group of Lawnies preparing to settle in, fourth-year Sarah Kenny (Col ’18) is excited about her new living quarters. “I’m very honored,” Kenny said. “I’ve been working on a Women’s Leadership Mentoring Program and I’m hoping to use my room as a meeting space to mentor younger girls—to build them up so that they’re encouraged to take on positions of leadership both on Grounds and after leaving UVA.”

As UVA prepares for its bicentennial, there are wonderful opportunities to reimagine the Lawn. The Lawn Alumni Challenge recognizes our obligation to preserve this site for the University, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and future generations.




Jeffersonian Grounds Initiative      

Woody Wingfield
434.924.4780 |