The Balkhi Foundation is proud to announce the winners of its 2021 Higher Education Scholarship.

Each of the talented students chosen as a Balkhi Foundation Scholar have demonstrated outstanding academic ability, dedication to their school and community at large, and persistence that is unmatched. The students in this list are all highly recommended by their teachers and have shown the ability to succeed despite the obstacles in their path. Each student will receive a $1000 scholarship to the university of their choice for the 2021-2022 school year and will be eligible for an annual renewal of the scholarship.

Amelia Hixon
Indian River State College

Amelia Hixon is the Balkhi Foundation’s first Rotary Scholar and a graduate with highest honors of Indian River State College with a major in Elementary Education. Amelia graduated from high school at the Fort Pierce Westwood Academy in Fort Pierce, Florida and simultaneously graduated with her associates degree from Indian River State College. While in high school, Amelia participated in Sigma Alpha Pi and the Promise is a Promise program that matches aspiring teachers with placements within the St. Lucie school district following graduation and licensure. Amelia’s ultimate goal is to become a teacher within the Department of Defense Education Activity to teach to children whose parents are deployed in the military.

What Amelia says about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: “I feel honored to have received a scholarship from the Balkhi Foundation. It has helped me in my academic career which I am most grateful for.”

Anya Petreski
Indiana University - Bloomington

Anya Petreski is currently attending Indiana University – Bloomington and majoring in Biology on the Pre-medical track. Anya graduated from Crown Point High School in Crown Point, Indiana with Magna Cum Laude, AP Capstone, and Academic Honors Designations. In high school, Anya was actively involved in Student Council, French Club, Key Club, and National Honors Society. Healthcare is a passion of Anya’s and led her to complete community service at a local hospital and create Breast Cancer Awareness events in her local community. After completing her bachelors degree in Biology Anya plans to attend medical school to become a physician.

What Anya says about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: “Being a recipient of the Balkhi Foundation Scholarship is an honor, as this organization values and pursues the success of students in reduced circumstances, making a large impact on the futures of many.”

Christian Keller
University of Texas at Austin

Christian Keller is currently attending the University of Texas at Austin and majoring in Chemical Engineering. Christian serves as Social Chair of his university’s chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. To explore his career interests, Christian is involved with Engineers for a Sustainable World where he is working on a team to develop a Direct Air Capture device to remove atmospheric carbon. Christian plays for UT Men’s Soccer Team for physical exercise and mental relaxation. This summer, Christian will be a Research and Development Engineer Intern at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio. Christian’s ultimate goal is to improve power storage and collection mechanisms for renewable energy sources to help move the United States towards a more sustainable power grid.

What Christian says about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: “The Balkhi Foundation Scholarship has greatly improved my college experience by allowing me to explore my personal and career interests without worrying about finances.”

Dylan Silverman-Barnes
University of Central Arkansas

Dylan Silverman-Barnes is currently attending the University of Central Arkansas as a member of the Honors College and is majoring in Dietetics. Dylan graduated from Conway High School in Conway, Arkansas in the top 10% of his graduating class with a High Honors distinction. In high school, Dylan completed the Nutrition Career pathway, was dual enrolled, and was a member of National Honor Society, Key Club, Spanish Honor Society, and Beta Club. Dylan was also chosen as Co-Captain of his high school’s football team and served as the Athletic Committee Chairman for his high school’s Key Club. Dylan’s ultimate goal is to change the lives of student or professional athletes as well as members of the community as a pharmacist.

What Dylan says about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: “I am extremely blessed and honored to receive this scholarship and have my goals supported by the Balkhi Foundation. This foundation has an unbelievable amount of passion for student success!”

Emily Orozco
University of California - Los Angeles

Emily Orozco is currently attending the University of California – Los Angeles with a major in Mechanical Engineering. She is involved in a number of activities including the Center for Excellence in Engineering and Diversity program and the Society of Women Engineers chapter at UCLA to learn more about her major and meet other engineering students with similar interests. Emily’s ultimate goal is to marry her interest in art with her degree in mechanical engineering to solve environmental problems that require a thoughtful solution by becoming involved in zero emission initiatives and learning more about the implementation of autonomous and robotic systems to improve everyday life.

What Emily says about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: “I am very appreciative of the fact I was chosen to be a Balkhi Scholar as it allowed me to focus on school and the development of my skills and interests in engineering. I am grateful for the Balkhi Foundation’s generosity and its encouragement of maximizing my potential.”

Hui Qian "Jenny" Chen
University of Georgia

Jenny Chen is currently attending the University of Georgia Honor’s College with a double major in Marketing and Management Information Systems. Jenny graduated with honors and as an AP Scholar with Distinction from Lakeside High School in Atlanta, Georgia. Jenny was active within her high school community, serving as the President of the Interact Honors Club, Vice President of the DECA Marketing Club, and the SAVE Promise Club’s co-student outreach and social media manager along with membership in numerous honor society and community service organizations. Additionally, Jenny has a passion for music and served as the Founder and President of the Lakeside Orchestra Coaching Committee, Vice President of the Tri-M Music Honors Society, and served on the Orchestra Leadership Committee’s Board.  In college, Jenny continues to actively engage with the college community through her involvement as a sister of Alpha Sigma Rho Sorority Inc., Honors Student Council Diversity and Inclusion Committee Member, Magellan Business Program participant, and UGA-Liverpool Collaborative Online International Learning research program participant. Her ultimate goal after graduating from college is serve as a product marketing or management professional in the tech, entertainment, media, or music space.

What Jenny says about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar:”I am so grateful that this scholarship has given me the opportunity to lessen the financial burden of college so I can focus more on getting involved extensively in the college community and excelling in my academics.”

Jamie Gunera Amador
University of Central Florida

Jamie Gunera Amador is currently attending the University of Central Florida with a major in Biotechnology and a minor in biology. Jamie graduated from Apopka High School in Apopka, Florida as well as with her associates degree from Valencia College. Jamie was recognized as an OCPS scholar for her outstanding academic success and graduated both high school and with her associates degree at age 14 and has been recognized by the University of Central Florida as one of the youngest students on campus. Jamie’s ultimate goal is to become a pediatric plastic surgeon specializing in helping children with life altering facial deformities.

What Jamie says about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: “I’m extremely grateful to the Balkhi Foundation for choosing me to be a Balkhi Scholar. They’ve presented me with an opportunity to help me get through school and for that I’m thankful.”

Jiazhen Li "Vincent" Ruan
University of Southern California

Vincent is studying Computer Science and Business Administration in the
University of Southern California. As board member and committee lead for
SparkSC, Vincent seeks to encourage entrepreneurial spirit to people in
different communities and make the necessary skills and mentorship
accessible. As program lead of USC’s Chinese Students and Scholars
Association, he is responsible for planning professional events that feature
engineers, managers and founders from the tech world who recruit and
give insight about job searching in the tech world. Vincent is highly
passionate about his studies, and is interested in pursuing software
engineering and product management. His ultimate goal is to help foster a
more interconnected world that give more equal access to people in
different communities.

What Vincent says about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: “As a first-gen student, it has been a privilege and an uneasy journey to stand where I am today! I am honored for the Balkhi Foundation’s support to my dreams. And I am truly excited for the many more students that will
be empowered by this scholarship”

Justin Baumann
Stevens Institute of Technology

Justin Baumann is currently attending Stevens Institute of Technology with a major in Engineering Management. Justin graduated from Bernards High School in Bernardsville, New Jersey as Vice President of Key Club and as a member of the executive board of Bernards High’s STEM Mentoring Club. At Stevens Justin is the treasurer of the Climbing and Mountaineering Club and intends to pursue research with professors on campus. Justin takes pride in working as a camp counselor and tutor for students with learning disabilities and aims to continue to work with children in the future. Justin’s ultimate goal is to build strong teams and communities within Computer Science and use that to help bring technology forward.

What Justin has to say about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: “As a first generation college student, having the support of the Balkhi Foundation further enables and encourages me to rise to the top of my field. The Balkhi Foundation Scholarship is literally an investment in the future professionals of tomorrow, and I am grateful to be part of it.”

Nathan Kap
Purdue University

Nathan Kap is currently attending Purdue University with a major in Engineering. Nathan graduated from Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis, Indiana with a Summa Cum Laude distinction and was recognized with an AP Capstone Diploma. Nathan was chosen from his peers to speak at his commencement ceremony and was active in National Honor Society. During his time in high school, Nathan served as drum major for the school marching band, section leader for his school’s indoor percussion ensemble, and was awarded as an outstanding soloist in piano in state and regional competitions. Nathan’s ultimate goal is to become an engineer while continuing to nurture his love of music.

What Nathan has to say about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: “The Balkhi Foundation Scholarship is an amazingly supportive program that has provided me with an endless amount of generosity that I will always be grateful for.”

Zaharias Avgoullas
Adelphi University

Zaharias Avgoullas is currently attending Adelphi University as an undecided major. Zaharias graduated from Holy Cross High School in Flushing, New York with an Advanced Regents Diploma and a Summa Cum Laude designation. Zaharias was also awarded a Top Scholar award for his academic success throughout high school. Zaharias was active in National Honor Society and drum line in high school, as well as, organizing his high school’s first lacrosse team. Zaharias’ ultimate goal is to working in aerospace, leading the way toward human advancement in space exploration and technology.

What Zaharias says about being a Balkhi Foundation Scholar: “I am extremely honored and grateful to have received the Balkhi Foundation Scholarship. Through their generous support, many students like myself are able to pursue a fruitful education.”

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