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Presenting the 2015 AFSAMerit Award Winners

On May 1, the American

Foreign Service Association

held its annual merit awards

ceremony to announce the

recipients of the 2015 AFSA

Merit Awards.

This year, AFSA awarded

$45,250 to 22 high school

seniors—all of whom are

children of Foreign Service

employees—for their out-

standing achievements in

academics, the arts and

community service. Each

winner received $2,500, and

honorable mentions received

$750 to $1,000 each. Of the

22 winners, 18 have parents

employed with the Depart-

ment of State, three with the

U.S. Agency for International

Development and one with

the Foreign Commercial

Service. (See

pp. 78-79

for a

complete list of the winners.)

Aaron Hilton was chosen

as this year’s art merit winner

for his compelling ballet per-

formances. The art honorable

mention recipients—Sterling

Butler, Colin Evans and Ellen

Rank—won for their submis-

sions in visual arts, music and

creative writing, respectively.

Their award-winning artwork

can be seen at


The newly established

Linda K. Fitzgerald Commu-

nity Service Memorial Award

was presented to Salma

Badeh for her work mentoring

with the Make a Difference

Foundation in India and her

volunteer service at a senior

care facility and a library in

Arlington, Texas.

Students apply-

ing for an academic

merit award were

evaluated using the

following criteria:

grade point average;

standardized test

scores; high-level

coursework; a For-

eign Service-themed

essay; student

activities; and special

circumstances, if any.

In addition to the

academic merit and

honorable mention

winners, one essay

was selected for the

“Best Essay” award.

This year’s “Best

Essay” winner was Selena

Everitt. (See p. 80 to read her essay, “Where Am I From?”)

All art merit award appli-

cants submitted work in one

of the following categories:

visual arts, musical arts,

performing arts or creative

writing. Each applicant was

evaluated on the quality and

creativity of the artwork, dedi-

cation to their artistic pursuit

and an essay.

The AFSA Scholarship

Program would like to recog-

nize and thank the 24 judges

who volunteered to serve on

our review panels, and the

12 individuals and organiza-

tions that have contributed

merit award scholarships to

the program. These special

named awards are bestowed

on students who received

the highest scores from the

judges. They include the

John and Priscilla Becker

Family Award; the Turner C.

Cameron Jr. Memorial Award;

two CareFirst BlueCross

BlueShield Federal Employee

Program Awards; the

Embassy Risk Management

Award; the Linda K. Fitzger-

ald Memorial Community

Service Award; the John C.

and Nancy S. Leary Memorial

Award; two Joanna and Rob-

ert Martin Awards; and the

Donald S. Spigler Memorial

and Maria Giuseppa Spigler


In addition to this year’s

merit awards, AFSA will confer

more than $218,000 in need-

based financial aid scholar-

ships ranging from $3,000 to

$5,000 on 62 undergraduate

students for the 2015-2016

academic year. Recipients will

be announced in August.


—Jonathan Crawford,

Scholarship Senior Associate

AFSA President Robert J. Silverman gave opening remarks at this year’s merit awards

ceremony as award winners wait to be recognized. Back row, from left: Eleni Smitham,

Ellen Rank and Daniel Kostelancik. Front row, from left: Aaron Hilton, Tristan Froats

and Colin Evans.


The AFSA Scholarship

Fund’s endowment now

stands at more than

$7 million, all of which

comes from generous

donors. No AFSAmem-

ber dues go toward the

Scholarship Fund, yet

this extremely robust,

beneficial program has

disbursed more than $4

million to 2,200 children

of Foreign Service

members over the last

25 years.

For more information

on the merit award pro-

gram, applying for this

benefit of AFSAmem-

bership or contributing

to the AFSA Scholarship

Fund, visit www.afsa. org/scholar or contac


Lori Dec at dec@afsa. org or (202) 944-5504