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FSYF Academic Merit Award

Growing up in the Foreign Service may be exciting but it isn't always easy. FS children face many challenges and disruptions to their lives. Overcoming those challenges and achieving academic success is admirable. FSYF celebrates the academic achievements of its youth members and supports their future academic goals.

Since 2010, FSYF has been recognizing Foreign Service High school Seniors and Gap-Year dependents for their outstanding achievements through the FSYF/GEICO Academic Merit Award.

2017 FSYF Academic Merit Award 

A one time first place prize of $4,000 and a second place prize of $2,000 will be awarded in 2017. High school seniors and gap year dependents whose families are members of the Foreign Service Youth Foundation (FSYF) are eligible to apply. (Verify FSYF member eligibility and join FSYF here.) 

Judging: Judging panels are composed of members of the FSYF Board of Directors and volunteers from the Foreign Service Community.

Deadline: Applications will be due Monday, February 6, 2017.

Notification: Applicants will be notified by email of the results by Friday, April 14, 2017. Awards will be bestowed in July 2017 at the FSYF Youth Awards Ceremony at the US Department of State. 

2016 Awards 

FSYF is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Academic Merit Award, sponsored by GEICO Federal Insurance.  A very strong field of 26 impressive applicants made the judging process difficult. However, the judges selected two recipients based on their academic achievements, extra curricular activities, and personal essay submissions.  The winners will be honored at the annual Youth Awards Ceremony at the Department of State's 
George C. Marshall Auditorium in Washington, DC, on July 8, 2016.  

Riena Harker

Riena Harker, daughter of Brad and Megumi Harker, is the first place recipient of the FSYF/GEICO Academic Merit Award and will receive $4,000. The Harker family’s worldwide posts include: Belgrade, Kobe, and Athens. The family is currently assigned to Beijing where Riena is a senior at the International School of Beijing. Attending three different high schools in four years, Riena continued to distinguish herself as an outstanding scholar. Riena’s passion for music led her to teach violin at Sun Village in China, a home for children whose parents have been imprisoned. Reina’s time in China also impacted her desire to help improve the world’s air quality, and Riena will be pursuing a degree in Environmental Sciences in college.

Alessandra Youth

The second place prize of $2000 was awarded to Alessandra Youth, daughter of Marta and Howard Youth. The Youth family is currently posted to Managua. Other worldwide posts include Ottawa, Quito, Washington, and Madrid. Along with her academic studies, Alessandra enjoys playing basketball and Taekwondo.  Alessandra describes herself as a “Third Culture Kid made resilient, balanced, and open through a life of constant change. Someone whose passion and dreams for the future have been shaped by a fascinating Foreign Service journey.” Alessandra will be studying Computer Science at Fordham University in the fall.

Everyone associated with FSYF, GEICO Federal Insurance, the Family Liaison Office and the Department of State congratulates these 2016 Academic Merit Award Recipients, as well as the other impressive Foreign Service youth who submitted applications. 

The Award

The first-place recipient will receive a one-time only prize of $4,000. The second-place recipient will receive a one-time only prize of $2,000. 


High School seniors and gap-year dependents of Foreign Service employees are invited to apply.  Please note that FSYF membership is required by the time of application.  

The children of FSYF Board Members and Advisory Council are not eligible to apply for this award.

Application deadline: Monday, February 6, 2017

FSYF is required by law to report awards over $600. There is no requirement that this award be used for college-related expenses.  See for more information.

More Information

FSYF 2017 

Academic Merit Award Application

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