On Wednesday, June 26, 2019, the Foreign Service Youth Foundation (FSYF), which this year celebrated the 30th anniversary since its inception, administered the annual Youth Awards Ceremony honoring FSYF Award Winners, AAFSW Merit Award Winners, and AFSA Merit Award Winners. The wonderful ceremony was organized by FSYF and its president, John Naland, whom AAFSW thanks very much, and was held at the George Marshall Center at the U.S Department of State.
In addition to FSYF President John Naland, AAFSW would like to thank AAFSW Scholarship Chair Sherry Barndollar Rock for her invaluable contributions over the last few years (2015 to 2019), as well as the panel of judges who helped adjudicate this year’s AAFSW scholarships: Debbi Miller, Troella Tyznik, Ann La Porta, and Lucy Whitley. Also, AAFSW would like to thank our AAFSW Office Manager, Barbara Reioux, for all the administrative work regarding our 2019 AAFSW scholarships.
**Our 2019 AAFSW Merit Scholarship Winners (for College Students), who receive $2,500.00 each, are:
1) Isaac Yang Burkhalter
Isaac Burkhalter, the son of Edward and Susan Burkhalter, was born in Singapore, and has lived in Uzbekistan, Nigeria, the Netherlands, and Japan. Isaac graduated from Saint Maur International School in Yokohama, Japan, in June 2017. He is currently a rising junior studying aerospace engineering at the University of Virginia.
2) Alexander Toyryla
Alexander Toyryla, the son of Michael and Kendra Toyryla, is a rising sophomore at The College of William and Mary majoring in Physics with a Mathematics minor. He graduated from the International Community School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with a full IB Diploma. He has lived in Laos, China, South Africa, Brazil, and the U.S.
**In 2016-2017, I served as the Parent Teacher Association President in one of the Fairfax County Public Schools. In that role, I met with several parents of children with various levels and kinds of disabilities for whom there had been Individualized Educational Programs established, otherwise known as IEPs. I also met a few of the IEP students who overcame many obstacles and really strived for academic excellence. With this past experience, last year, as president of the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide, I introduced for the first time a different kind of merit scholarship, which is named the “Twice Exceptional” Merit Scholarship. This AAFSW merit scholarship, which has been very well received, is specifically designed for students with a disability who exhibit academic excellence.
In 2019, AAFSW had two AAFSW Twice-Exceptional Merit Scholarship Winners, who receive $2,500.00 each. Only one of them could be in Washington, D.C. to receive the award:
1) Peter Banks
Peter Banks, the son of Jared and Laura Banks, has lived in Mozambique, Brazil, Poland, and Switzerland. After high school graduation, he took a gap year and volunteered with the American Conservation Experience through AmeriCorps and worked on many projects across Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah. He is currently studying economics and math at George Mason University.
2) Our second winner could not be present at the ceremony to receive his award, but his award was sent by mail. He just graduated from a science-oriented high school after 5 years back at home in the U.S. During his 11 years overseas in Europe and Asia, he learned three new languages. He is trying to find time to take foreign language classes at the technical institute he’ll be attending this fall, and he plans to spend a term abroad the following year. This summer, he will complete a software engineering internship at a local tech firm and, hopefully, release some programming-related side projects.
**The Judy Felt Memorial Volunteerism Scholarship was created to honor the late Judy Felt, a long-time AAFSW member who served as AAFSW President and Art & BookFair Chair. The Judy Felt Memorial Volunteerism Scholarship carries a $1500 award.
The 2019 AAFSW Judy Felt Memorial Volunteerism Scholarship Winner is Abigail Wollam.
The daughter of Michelle and Park Wollam, Abby is a senior at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, with a double major in History and Political Science and a concentration in International Relations. She has lived overseas while her family served in Guinea, Tunisia, Croatia, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, and Nigeria. They will soon be relocating to serve in New Delhi, India. Abby’s life has been enriched by a variety of volunteer activities such as working with the Chiedza Support Group for HIV kids in Zimbabwe, building and fundraising for Habitat for Humanity, food waste recovery, and assisting in therapeutic horseback riding lessons.
**The 2019 AAFSW Best Essay Award Winner is Grace Thompson, who received $1000.
The daughter of Dean and Jane Thompson, Grace Thompson is a junior pursuing a B.A. in linguistics at Miami University of Ohio. At Miami University, Grace works as a consultant at the Howe Writing Center, assisting undergraduate and graduate students across a variety of disciplines. She also gives presentations facilitating peer editing and the writing process. Grace has been the recipient of several creative writing awards and scholarships.
Congratulations to all the 2019 AAFSW Merit Scholarship Award winners!
Good luck in your future endeavors!
Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD