The Foreign Service Journal - May 2014 - page 57

MAY 2014
Members Give Time to Support AFSA’s Art and Academic
Merit Awards Program
During March and April, 25
AFSA members from the
Washington, D.C., area were
busy serving as judges for
AFSA’s youth Merit Awards
This year, 94 graduating
Foreign Service high school
seniors, in the U.S. and
abroad, competed on their
academic and art accom-
plishments for $48,500 in
prize money to be used for
college education. The win-
ners will be announced on
May 2.
As usual, AFSA will
spotlight the award winners
and donors who support the
program in the July-August
issue of
The Foreign Service
, but we want to take
this opportunity to salute the
volunteer judges who are the
critical “behind-the-scenes”
players in this program.
Wanting to give back is
a prime motivator for the
individuals involved in this
activity, but that’s not all.
Retiree Mort Dworken, who
has served as an academic
merit and now an art merit
judge, says, “I would not
come back year after year if I
did not enjoy this experience
so much.”
A first-time judge, active-
duty State Department
employee Frances Chisholm
adds, “It validates for me the
immense potential of the
next generation of our youth.”
All volunteer judges
attended an orientation
meeting to learn the mechan-
ics of scoring, spent 10-12
hours of their own time to
evaluate applications over a
three-week period, and then
participated in a panel meet-
ing to select some winners
and finalists.
Scholarship Committee
members, who are also merit
award judges, then volun-
teered for a second round to
evaluate the finalists from all
panels and select the remain-
ing award winners. Since
2012 the AFSA Merit Awards
program has used an online
student application submis-
sion and judge evaluation
program called “Fluidreview”
to manage the process.
Five academic merit pan-
els and one art merit panel
scored the 78 academic
merit applications and 16
art merit applications AFSA
received this year. Just as
the academic applicants are
divided into balanced panels
by their grade point average
and standardized test scores,
so are the judges.
AFSA staff members
use the following criteria to
assign judges to each panel:
gender, active-duty versus
retiree status, new or repeat
volunteer, agency repre-
National High School Essay
Contest in 16th Year
This year, AFSA’s National High School Essay
Contest enters its 16th year. In honor of the 90th
anniversary of the Foreign Service, students were
challenged to write about an important topic from
diplomatic history.
The available topics were the Cuban missile crisis,
the 1978 Camp David Accords, the end of the Cold
War, the Northern Ireland Peace Process/Good Friday
Agreement, the post-WorldWar II period/Marshall
Plan, and diplomacy through development. The most
popular topic was the Cuban missile crisis.
We received more than 400 essays from 47 states
and six countries, with just over 100 qualifying to
move onto the second round of judging, in early April;
the final round of judging began April 15.
The winning essay earns the student an all-
expense paid trip with family to Washington, D.C.,
to meet the Secretary of State, a $2,500 prize, and
an educational voyage courtesy of Semester at Sea
when the student enrolls in an accredited university.
Learn more at
or by
contacting AFSA’s Coordinator for Special Awards
and Outreach Perri Green at
(202) 719-9700.
Continued on page 63
Volunteers Karen Zens and Mort Dworken, both members of the AFSA
Scholarship Committee, discuss an entry at the art merit panel meeting.
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