School Life
Chapel and Spiritual Life

Pursuit with Passion

Forum Scholar Cameron Walker ’24 reflects on experience meeting some of the world’s greatest minds
Attendees at the March 18, 2023 Richmond Forum came expecting to see a larger than life star of the stage and screen, John Lithgow. Students, faculty and friends of Trinity in attendance that evening also enjoyed a surprise appearance on the big screen by a familiar face, Cameron Walker ’24, who was tasked with emceeing the student room and presenting live on camera in front of an audience of 3,500. 
With his student leadership experience, Walker was ready for the spotlight. “Trinity has prepared me so well that when I had to talk in front of the entire Richmond Forum, it wasn't that hard,” he says. “Trinity has given me the opportunity to speak in front of large groups of people in a professional format many times countless times during my career here.”
Walker is the fourth Trinity student since the program was conceived in 2013 to be selected as a Richmond Forum Scholar. “Each year, five of the Richmond region’s highest achieving and most impressive high school juniors are selected to work behind the scenes at America’s largest nonprofit speakers series as a Richmond Forum Scholar,” states the Forum’s web page. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that showcases the best students in our region.”
Walker says he took full advantage of the opportunity to develop his professional and communication skills and to engage with “the most talented and successful individuals that I could ever have the opportunity to meet.” 
At the Lithgow program, Walker was given the assignment of moderating the Forum’s student room, a special experience for students that includes a Q&A with the featured speaker before the program. Before Walker introduced Lithgow, he warmed the crowd up with some trivia questions. Later, during the main program’s intermission, he went live on the big screen to share student questions with the audience. “The Scholars are given a level of trust and independence when it comes to how we interact with people,” he says.
When Walker originally applied to be a Richmond Forum Scholar in the summer of 2022, he reflected in a video essay on Dr. Cornel West, who then visited the Forum for the final session of the 2022-23 season on April 29, 2023. “Personally meeting Dr. Cornel West was an experience that I could only dream of prior to becoming a Forum Scholar,” says Walker. “As one of the world’s greatest thinkers, his wisdom and character had an immeasurable impact on myself and the other scholars.”

“Every speaker consistently showed that the reason they're there is that they have an intense passion for what they do,” Walker remembers. “Whether it's an anthropologist, actor, intellectual. For all the speakers at the forums, their passion is constantly on display.”
At each program one lead scholar is assigned to escort the speaker, and make sure things run smoothly. Walker was paired with Ella Al Shamahi, paleoanthropologist and stand-up comedian who spoke on the topic of Neanderthals on February 8, 2023. 
“The main thing that stood out about her was that she really knew how to talk to people and keep them engaged,” Walker reflected. “A lot of scientists don't have that skill, but being able to communicate is something that’s really important in the professional world. And while she was up there on stage, interacting with scholars, it looked like she was having fun.” 
“She taught me that you need to discover your own path, and find something that you enjoy,” he says. “That experience helped me realize that having a passion for what you do will determine how far you go.”
At Trinity, Walker has been a leader in all areas of the school — from the arts, to athletics, clubs and student government — leveraging these diverse experiences to bring people together from all areas of the school. He plays varsity football, trumpet in the Jazz Ensemble, was vice president of the Student Government Association and has been a multi-year member of the Honor Committee, elected by his peers. Last year, he also started a new on-campus student organization called SALT (Student Athletic Leadership Team). As a leader of the Black Alliance Initiative, Walker participated in a memorable school-wide Chapel interviewing the former president of the University of Richmond, Dr. Ronald Crutcher
“Later on, I intend to study biomedical engineering, pre-med, and plan to go into the medical field,” Walker says. “Having the soft skills – professionalism, interacting with others, understanding non-verbal cues — is very important in the medical field. The Forum and Trinity have prepared me well.”

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