National High School Essay Contest

The 2016 Winner is Dylan Borne - Congratulations!


Dylan Borne

We are pleased to announce the winner of the 2016 AFSA National High School Essay Contest: Dylan Borne (pictured), an 11th-grade student at Benjamin Franklin Charter High School in New Orleans, LA. His paper describes his role as an economic officer in the USAID/DCHA Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation. He writes about promoting education for girls in Afghanistan through on-line courses and dispersal of laptops, ultimately eliminating the threats by the Taliban.

This year’s runner-up is Whitney Zhang, an 11th-grade student at Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy in Gilroy, CA. Whitney’s paper took the perspective of a Foreign Service member stationed in Pakistan working in the Bureau of Energy Resources. She points out the critical need to address Pakistan’s energy crisis, and how by solving this crisis in Pakistan the people will come to trust their government and the country will expand its economically exponentially. This year’s third place is McKenzie Hartman, a senior at Metro Early College High School in Columbus, Ohio. Congratulations to all three!

Whitney Zhang

Our honorable mentions this year are Gina Joerger (Mecklenburg-Pomerania, Germany), Miriam Francisco (Philadelphia, Pa.), Hannah Dougherty (Virginia Beach, Va.), Stephanie Wang (McMurray, Pa.), Kundan Kakaria (San Jose, Calif.), Hudson Pierce (Cary, N.C.), Zoe Zibolsky (Marana, Ariz.), Caroline Hatley (Little Rock, Ark.), Rachel Sullivan (Granby, Conn.), Yule Kim (Fort Lee, N.J.), Zach Arani (Oklahoma City, Okla.), Michael Earl (Hudson, N.H.), Shaila Lothe (Glen Allen, Va.), Brandon Ries (Erie, Colo.), Isha Raj-Silverman (San Diego, Calif.), Meghan McNicholas (Bryn Mawr, Pa.), John Casey (APO, Germany), Jessica Eskander (East Longmeadow, Mass.), Priya Sarma (Portland, Ore.), Katherine Fink (Middleton, Wis.), Ana Mangini (West Hartford, Conn.), and Matthew Wilkinson (Whitefish Bay, Wis.).

Dylan will receive a $2,500 prize, an all-expense paid two-day trip to Washington, D.C., to meet the Secretary of State and tour USIP, and a full-tuition paid voyage with Semester at Sea upon his enrollment at an accredited university. Whitney will receive a $1,250 prize and a full scholarship to participate in the International Diplomacy Program of the National Student Leadership Conference, held in Washington, D.C. annually.

Eligibility for AFSA’s 2016 National High School Essay Contest is limited to high school students of U.S. citizenship, in grades 9-12, whose parents are not members of the Foreign Service.

Contact Perri Green, AFSA’s Awards Coordinator, at with questions.



AFSA collects your information for this contest and for AFSA partners.  You may be signed up to receive updates or information from AFSA and our partners. You will receive confirmation from AFSA that your submission has been received and a notification if you are the winner or an honorable mention in May. You may also receive a message from our sponsor regarding their program offerings.


Students whose parents are not in the Foreign Service are eligible to participate if they are in grades nine through twelve in any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, or if they are U.S. citizens attending high school overseas. Students may be attending a public, private, or parochial school. Entries from home-schooled students are also accepted. Previous first-place winners and immediate relatives of directors or staff of the AFSA and Semester at Sea are not eligible to participate. Previous honorable mention recipients are eligible to enter. $2,500 to the writer of the winning essay, in addition to an all-expense paid trip to the nation’s capital from anywhere in the U.S. for the winner and his or her parents, and an all-expense paid educational voyage courtesy of Semester at Sea.

The winner's school also receives a donation of 10 copies of AFSA's Inside a U.S. Embassy: Diplomacy at Work


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