2016 Art Merit, Community Service & Best Essay Winners

On May 5, 2016, the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) Scholarship Fund bestowed the 2016 Academic and Art Merit Awards on 22 high school seniors – all of which are children of Foreign Service Employees. Recipients receive $2,500 as winners and $1,000 as honorable mention winners. The prizes total $45,250 this year.

AFSA received a total of 117 applications in this year’s competition.

Below you will find short biographies on the Art Merit Award winners, the Best Essay Award winner, and the Community Service Award winner.

Click here to view the Academic Merit Award winners and honorable mentions.

For more information on the AFSA Scholarship Program, visit www.afsa.org/scholar.

Helen Reynolds

Art Merit Award Winner - $2,500 / Visual Arts

Helen Reynolds – daughter of Scott Reynolds (FAS – FS Retired) and Wuyi Ning is graduating from Mt. Lebanon High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Helen is president of her school’s Photography Club as well as taking part in many art competitions and organizations. Her art depicts people of different cultures and involves modern world issues. Helen will attend Carnegie Mellon University majoring in visual art. Click on the links below to view Helen's visual art submissions.


Adriana Arancibia Tejada

Art Merit Award Honorable Mention Winner - $1,000 / Music

Adriana Arancibia Tejada – daughter of Paola Tejada (USAID – FS Active Duty) and Jesus Arancibia is graduating from Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan. Adriana has been playing with veteran artists in a jazz ensemble in California. Her goal is to become a professional guitarist and record her own music. Adriana will attend Manhattan School of Music majoring in music. Click on the links below to listen to Adriana's music submissions.


Maxwell Kaesshaefer

Art Merit Award Honorable Mention Winner - $1,000 / Music

Maxwell Kaesshaefer – son of Joseph Kaesshaefer (FCS – FS Active Duty) and Scoti Kaesshaefer is graduating from Proctor Academy in Andover, New Hampshire. Maxwell is looking to become a film music composer and has already experienced composing soundtracks for independent student films while attending Sydney Film School. Maxwell will attend University of Puget Sound. Click on the links below to listen to Maxwell's music submissions.


Nina Young

Art Merit Award Honorable Mention Winner - $1,000 / Visual Arts

Nina Young – daughter of Sylvie Young (State – FS Active Duty) and Jeffrey Young is graduating from Southbank International School in London, England. Nina has been a member in Model United Nations and French Club and also participated in community service with Jakarta Animal Aid Network and taking service trips in Cambodia. Nina has also been involved with a music blog website. She will attend University of California Los Angeles majoring in anthropology. Click on the links below to view Nina's visual art submissions.


Emily Larsen

Linda K. Fitzgerald Memorial Community Service Award Winner - $2,500

Emily Larsen – daughter of Mitchell Larsen (State – FS Active Duty) and Charlotte Larsen is graduating from Seoul Foreign School in Seoul, South Korea. She will attend Biola University in La Mirada, California majoring in cultural studies. Emily has a strong desire to empower individuals and spark change within their communities. With this philosophy in mind, she took initiative and created her own micro-business called, “Scarves for Service.” This business involved knitting and selling scarves to raise funds in support of two women from Latin America, Gloria and Maria. Emily also participated in service trips to Cambodia and was a high school leader for AWANA and Impact Student Ministries; both global, Christian-based non-profits.


Adele Birkenes

Best Essay Award Winner - $500

Adele Birkenes – daughter of Robert Birkenes (USAID – FS Active Duty) and Suzanne Polak is graduating from the NIST International School in Bangkok, Thailand. While in school, she was involved in Student Council, Model United Nations, and 2Develop, a group dedicated to development projects in rural areas. Adele plans to attend Vassar College majoring in biology.

Click here to read Adele's winning essay.