Blaze's glory: UVA's new student BOV rep does it all

With a name like Blake Blaze, people are probably going to remember you no matter what you do, but UVA's new student Board of Visitors representative is making sure he's known for more than his memorable moniker.

At the tender age of 21, this Barnstable, Massachusetts, native, who is the oldest of five boys and a rising fourth-year math and economics major, has already amassed a list of accomplishments that an older person could boast about, and that makes the rest of us feel, well, slightly less accomplished.

To start with, he's a Jefferson Scholar, one of an elite group of UVA's top students who are offered a full ride and priority access to classes because, according to the Scholars website, they are "individuals of extraordinary intellectual range and depth who possess the highest qualities of leadership, scholarship, and citizenship."

He's served on student council, is a member of One in Four, the all-male sexual assault prevention peer group, is a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and serves as the back-up snapper on the Cavaliers football team, a role he takes seriously even as he shows a self-deprecating streak during an exam-week interview.

"I'm about as important as the spare shoulder pads on the sideline," he says with a laugh, dressed the part of an athlete in a t-shirt, shorts, and slides as he takes a break from studying at the Jefferson Scholars headquarters behind the Fry's Spring Station pizzeria on Maury Avenue. Jokes aside, Blaze hopes his experience as a student athlete will serve him as he steps into his latest leadership role.

"As a nonvoting member, I can't go in there with an agenda," he says. That said, "I've been involved in a wide range of activities here, so I should be able to represent the undergraduate body– and with a little bit of outreach, the graduate body– as well as anybody. That's my ultimate goal."

Blaze was studying abroad in China last summer and met with President Teresa Sullivan just days before her forced resignation made international news.

Watching that saga unfold  "definitely made the idea of being a student member more enticing," he says, since decisions made in the coming year by the school, and the board in particular, "will determine the long term trajectory of the school."

Being chosen as the student BOV rep is a rigorous process, which starts with an essay then moves through a series of interviews with BOV members and other student leaders.

Blaze says he was thrilled when he received the call offering him the spot.

"This represents something I've wanted to do since coming here," he says. "It's making it so my having attended this school will have made a difference. It will have mattered that I came here."

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