The Balkhi Foundation is proud to announce the winners of its 2023 Higher Education Scholarship.
The 2023 Balkhi Foundation Scholars are a group of extremely talented young people who have shown a dedication to academics, service to their communities, and demonstrated their ability to grow and learn despite the obstacles in their path. The eleven scholars within the 2023 cohort will receive a renewable $1000 annual scholarship to the university of their choice. We commend these students for their hard work and determination to succeed.
Abdulrahman Sadiq will attend the University of Southern California with a major in Business. Abdulrahman graduated from Alief Early College High School in Houston, Texas with his high school diploma as President of National Honor Society. In the same year, he graduated from Houston Community College with an Associates Degree with Highest Honors in Science. While in high school, Abdulrahman was honored by the College Board as a member of the National African American Recognition program. Abdulrahman was also an active member of Future Business Leaders of America, placing first in Texas and Top Ten nationally for Supply Chain Management. After witnessing first hand the impact that losing a small business can have on a community prior to moving to the United States at age ten, Abdulrahman’s ultimate goal is to help small businesses grow and expand through financial education and consultations. Abdulrahman also hopes to create a mentorship program for young students who would like to enter the business field.
Andrea Hernández Piña will attend the W.A. Franke Honors College at the University of Arizona with a major in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Andrea graduated in the Top 5% of Rio Rico High School in Rio Rico, Arizona. Andrea is a passionate advocate for science and has served as a science and math mentor via Gear Up Mentorship, was an active leader within the Mujeres Lideres en STEAM Program, and was the founder and Vice President of Mujeres Líderes en STEAM Eco-Nogales, an environmental conservation organization. Andrea has also been recognized for multiple initiatives on both sides of the United States and Mexico Border, including participation in the Mariposa Health Clinic through the Mariposa Youth Coalition, collaboration with the US Consulate in Nogales, Mexico to advocate for environmental protection, promotion of science, human rights, and women’s empowerment. Andrea’s participation in research at the University of Arizona as a high school student was recognized with a Regeneron Biomedical Science Award. Andrea’s ultimate goal is to found a research hospital that provides affordable and accessible patient care while also being on the forefront of research and health promotion.
Elijah Rosen will be attending Carnegie Mellon University within the School of Computer Science. Elijah graduated from Signature School in Evansville, Indiana as an IB diploma recipient, with the Indiana Core 40 with Academic Honors diploma, and as Valedictorian of his class. While pursuing his university degree, Elijah plans to engage in research exploring the ever expanding field of Artificial Intelligence. After pursuing an advanced degree in computer science, it is Elijah’s ultimate goal to one day found an ethical cooperative software company that provides quality service while also ensuring a fair and equitable work environment.
Grayson Hodson will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a double major in Political Science and Economics. Grayson graduated from Beech High School in Hendersonville, Tennessee as a member of the Student Council and National Honors Society. Grayson was also an active member of the Model United Nations and won the Outstanding Resolution Award at the Model United Nations Conference. Grayson’s ultimate goal is to work in a government position to assist in bringing forward progressive policies that improve overall health and wellbeing.
Liam Chelkowski will be attending Cornell University with a major in Biomedical Engineering. Liam graduated from Seminole High School in Sanford, Florida with a Summa Cum Laude distinction and as Valedictorian of his graduating class. While in high school, Liam was a Varsity Captain for Tennis, leading his team to district, regional, and state competitions. He also served as President of the Technology Student Association, President of Science Olympiad/Science Bowl, an officer in Model United Nations, and a member of the National Honor Society. Liam’s ultimate goal is to attend medical school to become a Pediatric Surgeon.
Linda Benavides will be attending Clemson University majoring in psychology on a pre-med track. Linda graduated from Mauldin High School in Mauldin, South Carolina. Following Linda’s immigration from Costa Rica in middle school, she began the rigorous process of learning English in a new country. Despite her early challenges, Linda graduated in the top 10% of her graduating class. Linda’s ultimate goal is to one day become a Child Psychiatrist.
Maria Bustinza will be attending the University of South Florida with a major in International Studies with a minor in film or media studies. Maria graduated from Gulf High School in New Port Richey, Florida with an IB Diploma. As a first generation student, Maria is acutely aware of the legal experience for underrepresented groups both within the United States and abroad. As such, she has the ultimate goal of becoming a civil rights lawyer or a documentary filmmaker focusing on those that are otherwise underrepresented within the justice system.
Raewyn Shaw will attend the University of South Florida with a major in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. Raewyn graduated from Leon High School in Leon, Florida in the top 5% of her graduating class having completed the AP Capstone program. Raewyn was a member of the National Honor Society and served as President and Lieutenant Governor of the Florida District Key Club. Raewyn’s ultimate goal is to complete her Ph.D. and become an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist. In addition to research and teaching, she hopes to use her skills to improve the working conditions of those in labor unions across the state of Florida.
Raphael Mukondiwa will be attending Duke University majoring in Computer Science. Raphael graduated from Knightdale High School in Knightdale, North Carolina with a Summa Cum Laude distinction, as an AP Scholar with honor, and as a member of the National Honor Society. Raphael was also chosen by the College Board as a member of the National African American Recognition Program. While in high school, Raphael served as a student ambassador and representative of the Senior Class, served as captain of the golf and swim teams, and was selected as a member of the 2023 Bank of America Student Leaders program. Raphael’s ultimate goal is to become a software engineer who can leverage technology to foster equity in developing African countries. Additionally, Raphael aspires to combine his passions of computer science and social justice to make a meaningful impact and contribute to positive change in regions traditionally plagued by human rights abuses and corruption.
Sofia Goehler is the Balkhi Foundations’ 2023 Rotary Scholar and will be attending Tallahassee Community College with a major in Elementary Education. Sofia graduated from Boca Raton Community High School in Boca Raton, Florida as a member of the school’s Early Childhood Teacher Education Choice Program. While in high school, Sofia accumulated over 600 volunteer hours with young children and earned her Child Development Association Certificate. After completing her bachelor’s degree at Florida State University, Sofia’s ultimate goal is to return to the Palm Beach County School District where she graduated to give back as an Elementary Teacher.
Yujia Ji will attend the Ohio State University as a computer science and engineering major. Yujia graduated from Dublin Scioto High School in Dublin, Ohio as Valedictorian with a Summa Cum Laude and President’s Award distinction. Despite many personal obstacles, Yujia was part of the Lead4Change Program and worked at a local food bank. Yujia’s ultimate goal is to use his computer programming skills to improve the world for people with disabilities.