The Foreign Service Journal - November 2014 - page 71

On Sept. 29, Nitisha Baronia,
this year’s winner of AFSA’s
High School Essay Contest,
and her parents, Vivek Baro-
nia and Kavita Gupta, and
brother, Ruchir Baronia, spent
a day inWashington, D.C.,
with AFSA.
The day started with a
morning meeting with Sec-
retary of State John Kerry,
where he presented Nitisha
with the essay contest’s first-
place certificate.
Nitisha, a 2014 graduate
of Dougherty Valley High
School, in San Ramon, Calif.,
is currently a freshman at
the University of California,
Berkeley. Nitisha wrote her
winning essay on the Marshall
Plan and its ramifications for
both the Foreign Service and
U.S. diplomacy as a whole.
Secretary Kerry stepped
out of his office to chat with
Nitisha and her family before
the official presentation.
“Meeting Secretary Kerry was
something I had been prepar-
ing for,” Nitisha says. “How-
ever, when he walked into the
room, all of my expectations
were blown away.”
She adds: “He burst into
the room with a presence
that was larger than life, and
I was left speechless when I
heard that he had taken the
time to read my essay. And he
discussed his love for guitar
playing with my little brother
as if they were old friends.”
After meeting the Secre-
tary, Nitisha and her family
crossed the street to AFSA
headquarters, where they
were treated to a breakfast
and where Nitisha received
the remaining prizes.
President Robert J. Silver-
man presented Nitisha with
a check for $2,500. Luke
Jones, the chief of staff at the
Institute for Shipboard Educa-
tion, awarded her a full-tuition
scholarship for a Semester at
Sea voyage.
Nitisha and her family then
headed out to see the city.
“TouringWashington, D.C.,
was a really great experience,”
Nitisha says. “I was surprised
to find that the quotation I
had begun my essay with
was engraved on a wall at the
[Franklin Delano] Roosevelt
Monument, which really
struck a chord with me.”
Nitisha also visited Capitol
Hill, where she met with staff
of her hometown congress-
man, Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.)
Nitisha had worked in Rep.
Swalwell’s California office
while she was in high school.
AFSA established the High
School Essay Contest in 1999
AFSA NEWS
THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION
AFSA High School Essay Contest Winner
Meets Secretary Kerry
Continued on page 72
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
NOVEMBER 2014
71
U.S.DEPARTMENTOFSTATE/MICHAEL
G
ROSS
Above, from left: AFSA
FSJ intern Trevor
Smith, Vivek Baronia,
Ruchir Baronia,
Secretary of State
John Kerry, Nitisha
Baronia, Kavita Gupta
and Semester at Sea
representative Luke
Jones.
Right: Secretary Kerry
greets AFSA’s High
School Essay Contest
winner and her family.
U.S.DEPARTMENTOFSTATE/MICHAEL
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