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 will attend 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 where she was a part of 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 also graduated with her associates degree from Indian River State College with a Summa Cum Laude distinction and has been listed on the Dean’s list three times. 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.

Anya Petreski
Indiana University - Bloomington

Anya Petreski will be attending Indiana University – Bloomington and majoring in Biology. Anya graduated from Crown Point High School in Crown Point, Indiana with a Magna Cum Laude Designation. Anya was recognized with an AP Capstone and Academic Honors Diploma. 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.

Christian Keller
University of Texas at Austin

Christian Keller will be attending the University of Texas at Austin and majoring in Chemical Engineering. Christian graduated from The Woodlands High School in The Woodlands, Texas with a Summa Cum Laude designation and was recognized as an AP Scholar with Distinction. Christian was also named as a National Merit Scholar and U.S. Presidential Scholar. Christian is most proud of his achievements in STEM in which he served as President of his school’s Science National Honor Society, competed in Math and Science Bowls, and completed an engineering internship with Chevron Phillips. Christian’s ultimate goal is to improve power storage and collection mechanisms for renewable energy sources to help move the United Sates towards a more sustainable power grid.

Dylan Silverman-Barnes
University of Central Arkansas

Dylan Silverman-Barnes will be attending the University of Central Arkansas and 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 by educating them about the full power of nutrition.

Emily Orozco
University of California - Los Angeles

Emily Orozco will be attending the University of California – Los Angeles with a major in Mechanical Engineering. Emily graduated from Compton High School in Compton, California as class valedictorian and was recognized as an AP Scholar with Distinction. Emily was chosen as the University of California President’s Pre-College Scholar and served as a student board member for her school district throughout high school. Emily has also been heavily involved in art and community service throughout her high school career. 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.

Hui Qian "Jenny" Chen
University of Georgia

Jenny Chen will be attending the University of Georgia Honor’s College with a major in Management Information Systems and Marketing. 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. Jenny also serves as a peer mentor and tutor and was a member of the high school tennis team. Jenny aims to complete an expedited bachelor’s and master’s program that will allow her to achieve her ultimate goal of building an educational nonprofit that serves the Atlanta area to provide both academic and social support to youth.

Jamie Gunera Amador
University of Central Florida

Jamie Gunera Amador will be attending the University of Central Florida with a major in Biotechnology. 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. Jamie’s ultimate goal is to become a pediatric plastic surgeon specializing in helping children with life altering facial deformities.

Jiazhen Li Ruan
University of Southern California

Jiazhen will be attending the University of Southern California with a major of Computer Science. Jiazhen graduated from Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach, Florida. Jiazehen was an active member of many clubs at his high school and has served as President of his high school’s Odyssey of the Mind club, Treasurer of Student Government, Vice President of the Future Business Leaders of America club, and Treasurer of the National Social Studies Society club on campus. In addition, Jiazhen was a member of the varsity volleyball team while also being employed as an academic tutor. Jiazhen’s ultimate goal is to use his knowledge in computer science to create a more interconnected world that allows for improved insights into bettering global communities.

Justin Baumann
Stevens Institute of Technology

Justin Baumann will be attending Stevens Institute of Technology with a major in Biology. 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. Justin has attended Harvard Model Congress Boston and competed in the 2021 New Jersey Physics Olympics. 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 attend medical school and become a pediatric specialist in surgery or dermatology.

Nathan Kap
Purdue University

Nathan Kap will attend 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 aerospace engineer while continuing to nurture his love of music.

Zaharias Avgoullas
Adelphi University

Zaharias Avgoullas will attend Adelphi University with a major in Computer Science. 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.

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