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2024 Merit Scholarship Winners

AAFSW is pleased to announce the winners of our 2024 merit scholarships. Learn more about these stellar students below.

Merit Scholarship Awardees

 Isabelle A. Boyd

Isabelle Ann Boyd: A remarkable journey of resilience, adaptability, and determination. 

Isabelle Boyd is a rising sophomore majoring in Psychology and English at Virginia Tech. Born in Lithuania during her father’s first Foreign Service tour, Isabelle has also lived in Armenia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, and Ukraine.  Isabelle spent a significant part of her high school years in Kyiv. However, her life took an unexpected turn when the United States embassy instructed her family to evacuate due to the impending threat of a Russian invasion. They returned to the United States, settling in temporary housing in Falls Church, Virginia.

Isabelle remained committed to her education despite the uncertainty and upheaval. Unable to transfer to a local high school mid-academic year, she continued her classes through Kyiv International School despite the time difference. At the same time, her friends, classmates, and teachers were scattered across the globe seeking safety. Isabelle’s achievements are commendable: Dean’s List, Fall 2023, AP Scholar with Honor Award (2022), and AP Scholar with Distinction Award (2023).

Isabelle’s journey is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, even in the most challenging circumstances. Additionally, Isabelle’s involvement in the Team Tennis League was transformative. Initially daunting, she found courage and discovered a sense of community. Regular play with her team fostered belonging and friendship, making her eager to return next semester. Furthermore, her experience with the “Bookworms” reading service club was significant. As a mentor to local elementary students, Isabelle shared her love for reading, inspiring the younger generation.

Lexy Jane Boudreau 

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Lexy Jane Boudreau: A journey across equations, cultures and disciplines.

Her family’s involvement has profoundly influenced Lexy Jane Boudreau’s life in the Foreign Service. Having lived in diverse countries such as Bermuda, Ukraine, South Korea, Uganda, and Jordan, Lexy’s experiences have broadened her horizons and instilled a deep appreciation for diverse cultures and perspectives. She is pursuing a dual degree in Industrial Engineering and Science, Technology, and Society at North Carolina State University. At North Carolina State University, Lexy’s dual degree in Industrial Engineering and Science, Technology, and Society navigates the intricate web of equations and societal implications, seeking harmony between progress and people. 

As part of the Grand Challenge Scholars Program, Lexy is enthusiastic about restoring and improving urban infrastructure, aiming to connect community needs with engineering outcomes. Her unique insights and global perspective make her a valuable advocate for positive change. Additionally, her background in diplomacy equips her with the skills to navigate complex international relations and foster collaboration across borders. 

The Grand Challenge Scholars Program is crucial in shaping Lexy’s academic journey. This program empowers students like Lexy to tackle real-world problems by addressing global challenges through interdisciplinary approaches, fostering innovation and sustainable solutions. Likewise, her exposure to foreign service life has honed her adaptability, cultural competence, and ability to bridge gaps between nations.

AAFSW’s Twice Exceptional Merit Scholarship 

Katherine A. Nicodemus

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Katherine Nicodemus’s story: A multicultural journey.

Katherine Nicodemus, a third-year student at George Mason University, embodies a rich tapestry of experiences. She was born in Virginia and spent her formative years in Germany, Austria, Ghana, and West Africa. These diverse cultural influences profoundly shaped her worldview. 

Driven by a passion for helping others, Katherine actively engages in volunteer work and aspires to become a social worker. As an ABA therapist, she adeptly manages behavior in children on the autism spectrum. Beyond her professional pursuits, Katherine cherishes her love for singing (which began at age two) and her enjoyment of volleyball. She is a middle child, with an older brother 18 months her senior and a beloved 14-year-old sister. Her affinity for animals extends to her two devoted cats, who faithfully follow her every move. 

The scholarship she has received represents a momentous honor, empowering her to advance her education and contribute to sustainable solutions within our communities. Katherine expresses deep gratitude to AAFSW for this incredible opportunity and eagerly anticipates continuing her journey with their unwavering support.

Harrison I. Gordon  

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Harrison Gordon: A journey in anthropology and diplomacy.

Harrison Gordon is a 19-year-old student at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. His dedication to unraveling the stories of our past is evident through his major in Anthropology. With a fascination for history and a keen interest in the rich narratives that human experiences reveal, Harrison has embarked on an academic journey to explore our collective heritage.

His passion for understanding the world through a historical lens led him to choose Anthropology as his major. In this field, he delves into the biocultural evolution, diversity, and adaptability of humans. Harrison learns how we have modified our environments and behaviors throughout history to thrive.

Beyond his academic pursuits, Harrison is an accomplished Eagle Scout, demonstrating his leadership skills and commitment to community service. When he is not in the classroom, he enjoys swimming, hiking, and expressing his creativity through working with clay. His love for discovery extends to thrift stores, where he seeks out unique items.

Harrison Gordon’s multifaceted interests and dedication to understanding our past make him a promising Anthropology major at Fort Lewis College1. The Four Corners region provides an ideal backdrop for his studies, allowing him to explore the intricate connections between culture, biology, and history. As he studies anthropology, Harrison gains insights into human behavior, social structures, and belief systems. These insights are invaluable for diplomats working in diverse contexts. Anthropologists contribute to policymaking, conflict resolution, and sustainable development by analyzing cultural dynamics and fostering empathy.

Best Essay Scholarship

Lillian C. Moo 

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Lillian Moo: On a mission to combat climate change.

Growing up in the Foreign Service, Lillian Moo’s life has been shaped by unexpected twists and global experiences. In 2013, her family was abruptly expelled from Venezuela during the school year, teaching her resilience and adaptability. Later, she moved from the United States to Hungary, diving into the IB program despite the challenges.

Lillian’s academic achievements are a testament to her intellectual prowess. She made the Oregon State University Honor Roll (Fall 2023, Winter 2024), was one of three valedictorians in her high school class of sixty students, received the prestigious President’s Award for Academic Excellence, and was a semifinalist for the highly competitive US Presidential Scholars program.

However, the monsoons in Mumbai left lasting impressions on Lillian. The relentless rain, flooded streets, and stalled traffic revealed the stark realities of anthropogenic climate change. As a third-culture kid, she witnessed firsthand climate impacts—wading through floods in Jakarta, observing Venezuela’s fossil fuel economy, and engaging with Hungary’s climate politics.

As a civil engineering student at Oregon State University, Lillian is committed to building resilient communities. She conducts research on wildfire effects on indoor air quality and volunteers with Engineers Without Borders, designing water systems for Nicaragua. Her journey reflects a passion for global change—a legacy of his diverse upbringing.

Lillian Moo’s dedication to combatting climate change is commendable, and her experiences as a third-culture kid uniquely position her to make a difference.

Judy Felt Memorial Volunteerism Scholarship

Elena Elizabeth Diaz 

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Elena Elizabeth Diaz: A journey of family bonds and academic excellence.

Elena Elizabeth Diaz embarked on a remarkable journey alongside her family. Born in the United States, Elena’s life took an exciting turn when they relocated to Riga, Latvia. This move was not just about changing addresses but an opportunity to immerse themselves in a new culture, language, and way of life. Elena’s diverse experiences span El Salvador, Japan, Latvia, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with travel to over forty countries.

In 2024, Elena became a Laidlaw Scholar at the University of St Andrews. This prestigious scholarship funds a two-year research, volunteer, and leadership program to develop ethical leaders who reinvest their skills to help others succeed. Elena’s research focuses on the trans-generational effects of opioid addiction. Her academic achievements include being the valedictorian at the International School of Brussels and receiving the Maura Murphy Scholarship. Elena shares her passion for education and cultural exchange as a University of St Andrews Student Ambassador.

Beyond accolades, Elena treasures her family’s unique understanding. They share lived experiences, effortlessly bridging cultural references. Their togetherness remains unwavering, regardless of changing addresses. Elena recognizes this as a rare gift—one that not everyone has. Beyond the benefits of being a third-culture kid, the trust, empathy, and stability within her family stand out. Their shared journey has forged unbreakable bonds, proving that home is not just a place—it is the people who share your heart.

Elena’s story exemplifies resilience and the power of family.

Congratulations to our 2024 scholarship recipients!


  • Melanie McFeeters, Volunteers & Evacuee Support Network (ESN) Chair
  • Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, Public Relations & Publicity Chair
  • Ann La Porta, Forum Chair
  • Victoria Olsa, Foreign Born Spouses Group Co-Chair
  • Jenny Kocher, Foreign Born Spouses Group & EFM Employment Co-Chair
  • Adah Laureano Ellenport, Scholarships Chair

Bios by  Celine Ford, President