CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A Charlottesville High School student earned a big check for her leadership skills within the community.

On Monday, April 15, she was among 10 scholarship winners honored at a luncheon for women in leadership.

Zyahna Bryant was awarded a $30,000 scholarship from the Emily Couric Leadership Forum.

Bryant plans to attend the University of Virginia in the fall, and this money will help her pay for tuition and books.

"I didn't expect myself to win,” Bryant said.

Bryant’s work as an activist in the Charlottesville community is paying off.

“They called and I was getting ready for bed, like after doing homework and they were like, ‘you won,’ and I was like, ‘oh my goodness,’” Bryant said.

On Monday, the Emily Couric Scholarship Forum announced that it was awarding Bryant $30,000.

The forum encourages young women to get involved with issues impacting their communities.

"We give scholarships for academic merit and for athletic merit, but leadership is such an important quality in our society and in our communities," Katie Shevlin, a former winner of the scholarship, said.

Bryant has been vocal in the fight for equity in city schools and public spaces.

She says this scholarship is one of a kind.

"I think this scholarship is particularly special because it celebrates women and the work that we do, and so I think when doing community organizing or social justice work or even political activism you see how women are erased,” Bryant said.

A women's leadership award was also given to Deborah McCauley for her work as a wildlife veterinarian.

She gave a speech about wildlife conservation and encouraged all the finalists to never give up on all their hard work.

"Is to follow your passion, be surrounded by people that support you, the work that you do, have endurance, and stay set to your goal," McCauley said.

The nine remaining finalists each received $5,000 scholarships.

Bryant says the award will help advance her leadership skills and inspire others to follow in her footsteps to make change in their own communities.

"I’m excited to be able to continue to be able to do community work, so the Couric scholarship will help me support, will help support me in doing that community work," Bryant said.

Senator Emily Couric died in 2001 of pancreatic cancer, and the cancer center at UVA is named in her honor.

The Emily Couric Leadership Forum carries on her legacy by investing in young women leaders.