The Balkhi Foundation is proud to announce the winners of its 2019 Higher Education Scholarship.

Each of these ten talented students displayed academic success, community engagement, and a well developed career plan. Every student on this list came highly recommended by their teachers and displayed unwavering excellence in the face of significant academic and personal challenges. Each student has received a $1,000 scholarship towards the 2019-2020 school year.

Chhun Hong
University of Texas at Austin

Chhun Hong currently attends the University of Texas at Austin following his graduation from Magnolia West High School in Magnolia, Texas. Chhun graduated with his International Baccalaureate Diploma and a Summa Cum Laude distinction ranked fourth in his class of 444 students. Chhun is currently studying Electrical and Computer Engineering with the goal of completing a degree in either Software Engineering or Data Science with a potential minor in business. Chhun aims to work in cyber security or software engineering for a large technology or financial institution. He also hopes to one day return to his home country of Cambodia to improve water supply access for rural residents.

What Chhun says about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: “I am truly lucky and honored to have received the Balkhi Foundation Scholarship that aims to empower and enhance the lives of many First-Generation students like myself.”

Gabriela Varela Guadiana
Texas A & M University

Gabriela Varela Guadiana is currently attending Texas A & M following her graduation from United High School in Laredo, Texas. Gabriela graduated in the top three percent of her graduating class of 1,127 as a member of the National Honor Society, with a dual language recognition, and endorsements in STEM, Arts and Humanities, and Multidisciplinary Studies. Gabriela is majoring in Animal Science with a minor in Spanish. Gabriela is actively pursuing a future in veterinary school. Gabriela’s ultimate goal is to improve the lives of animals either in direct service as a veterinarian or through active participation in Animal Health Policy at the USDA.

What Gabriela says about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: “The Balkhi Foundation Scholarship has helped me tremendously and I wouldn’t have been able to afford my education without it. They aid low-income students like myself and give us the chance to pursue our dreams.”

Jennifer Vasquez Gonzalez
University of Florida

Jennifer Vasquez Gonzalez is currently attending the University of Florida following her graduation from John I Leonard High School in Greenacres, Florida. Jennifer was ranked fifth in her high school graduating class of 862 and was honored as both an Outstanding Cambridge Learner and as Most Outstanding Senior in Science. During her time in high school, Jennifer became a certified medical administrative assistant, electrocardiogram technician, emergency medical responder, and patient care technician. Jennifer is currently a biology major with a sociology minor while preparing herself for medical school with the ultimate goal of becoming a pediatrician working in underserved communities.

Johanna Powell
University of Miami

Johanna Powell is currently attending the University of Miami following her graduation from Dreyfoos High School in West Palm Beach, Florida. Johanna graduated in the top 15 percent of her class. Johanna excelled academically throughout high school while also exploring her passion for dance. Johanna is majoring in biology while pursuing a premedical course of study. Johanna ultimately plans to attend medical school and become an innovator in reconstructive surgical techniques. She aspires to one day become a skilled surgeon and dedicate her time to traveling throughout the globe provide care to those who need it most.

Marco Polimeni
Stevens Institute of Technology

Marco Polimeni is currently attending the Stevens Institute of Technology following his graduation from Pocono Mountain East High School in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania. Marco graduated fourth in his graduating class with distinguished honors. Marco’s proudest contribution to his high school was co-founding the school’s computer science club. Marco is currently majoring in Computer Science while pursuing an accelerated Bachelor’s degree. He also plans to complete an accelerated Master’s degree – completing all requirements within the traditional four years of college attendance. His ultimate goal is to make a difference in the technology industry by applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to community service.

What Marco has to say about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: “The foundation’s value of charity through supporting students and encouraging community service inspires how I look to use my degree for the benefit of others!”

Mary Huang
University of South Carolina Aiken Honors College

Mary Huang is currently attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from Wilson High School in Timmonsville, South Carolina. Mary graduated in the top three percent of her graduating class with an International Baccalaureate Diploma, Board of Trustees recognition, and as a member of National Honor Society and Beta Club. Mary is currently majoring in Biological Sciences with a goal of a future career in genetic research and gene therapy. Mary also hopes to become an advocate for accessible healthcare in rural communities within the United States and overseas.

What Mary has to say about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: “The Balkhi Foundation scholarship allows students like me to reach their collegiate goals by serving as a bridge for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to continue their education. I am one step closer to achieving my dream of becoming a molecular biologist. My education has always been of utmost importance to me, and I am extremely grateful to the Balkhi Foundation for helping me afford an education at one of the best universities in the US.”

Maya Patterson
University of Pittsburgh

Maya Patterson is currently attending the University of Pittsburgh following her graduation from Norwin High School in North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Maya graduated fourth in her class of 400 students as an Honors graduate and member of National Honor Society. Maya is also a two time Society of Women Engineers Merit Award winner. Maya is majoring in Chemistry with a minor in Bioengineering and a certificate of Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. Maya’s ultimate goal is to become a physician and develop innovative ways to improve quality of life for patients around the world.

Megan Goulet
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Megan Goulet is currently attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute following her graduation from Conard High School in West Hartford, Connecticut. Megan graduated high school with Maximum Honors as a member of National Honor Society and as a Girls With Impact graduate. Megan is currently serving as a Front-End Software Developer and Research Assistant through Rensselaer’s Institute for Data Exploration and Applications where she is working on the HEALS (Health Empowerment by Analytics, Learning, and Semantics) project in collaboration with IBM. This project aims to improve patient care by helping physicians and patients collaborate to treat medical conditions. Megan is currently majoring in Computer Science with the goal of expanding her computing knowledge to make a positive impact on society.

What Megan has to say about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that the Balkhi Scholarship has decided to donate an additional scholarship to their well-performing community. During this unprecedented time, the Balkhi Scholarship has really helped me continue to pay for tuition, and I am very grateful for their generous donation.

Micah McGrath
Rutgers University

Micah McGrath is currently attending Rutgers University following her graduation from Chatham High School in Chatham, New Jersey. Micah graduated in the top 10% of her class as a member of National Honor Society. Micah also received the Kenyon College Book Award. Micah is majoring in Criminal Justice with minors in Biological Science and Critical Intelligence Studies. Micah’s ultimate goal is to become a member of federal law enforcement either with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Tito Ruiz
University of Florida

Tito Ruiz is currently attending University of Florida following his graduation from John I Leonard High School in Greenacres, Florida. Tito graduated third in his high school class with an AICE diploma as a student of the Medical and Computer Academy. Tito is majoring in computer science and electrical engineering and strives to be the first in his family to graduate college. In the future, Tito hopes to help expand the solar energy industry to decrease dependance on fossil fuels.

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