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Celebrate Fairfax Announces Community Spirit Scholars

$10,000 in scholarships awarded; recipients to be honored at Celebrate Fairfax! Festival.

Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. (CFI), producer of the award winning Celebrate Fairfax! Festival, announced the recipients of their Celebrate Fairfax Community Spirit Scholarship Program. First awarded in 2012, ten Community Spirit Scholarships are annually awarded to Fairfax County graduating seniors who demonstrate excellence in community service, leadership, academics and extracurricular activities.

Selected by the Board of the nonprofit Celebrate Fairfax, Inc., one scholarship recipient is named from each of Fairfax County’s Supervisory Districts, as well as one at-large scholarship.

"Celebrate Fairfax believes that by enabling local youth to continue their education, we are preparing the next generation of Fairfax County leaders and strengthening our communities," said Barry Feil, president and CEO of Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. Scholarship Committee Chair Jason Chung added, "These ten students are to be commended for their leadership and desire to assist their communities. They have shown a commitment to the highest standards of academic success and community volunteerism."

Scholarship recipients will be honored at a special Community Spirit Reception at the Celebrate Fairfax! Festival on Saturday, June 7, with presenters and guests to include community and county leaders, elected officials, members of the Friends of Celebrate Fairfax, and other special guests. In addition, scholarship recipients will be treated to a VIP Experience Package at the 2014 Celebrate Fairfax! Festival.

The ten Celebrate Fairfax Community Spirit Scholars for 2014 are:

  • Kai DeBus, a resident of the Braddock District attending Lake Braddock Secondary School, an avid volunteer in the community through Inova Fairfax Hospital, the Pohick Regional Library and the Fairfax County Park Authority. He is a member of the Fairfax County chapter of the Red Cross, Varsity Debate Team, President of the Lake Braddock High School Key Club and Vice President of both the Science Olympiad and National Honor Society. Kai is also a member of the Lake Braddock Road Club All-Star soccer team and spends his summers as an assistant coach for 5-12 year olds at the Golden Boot soccer summer camp.

Kai will be attending Yale University in the fall and aspires to be a physician, stating that his goal is to truly make a difference in the world.

  • Zak Depasquale, a Springfield District resident and student at Robinson Secondary School, is a peer mentor to at-risk students, a student leader for Central Fairfax Young Life, and spends his time performing piano and visiting with the residents of Sunrise Assisted Living. He is also a member of Code Red, a student band that performs at local charity events. Despite a serious injury during his sophomore year, Zak has been a member of the Robinson Varsity Wrestling Team for four years and this year was honored as a Virginia State Champion.

Zak will be continuing his Wrestling career at the University of Virginia in the fall and plans to study Engineering.

  • Fahim-Faraaz Syed, a Mason District resident attending Lake Braddock Secondary School, has made a difference in the lives of the residents of the Aarondale Assisted Living Home through weekly visits since his sophomore year. He has been honored with an AP Scholar award and first place in the Lake Braddock High School Science Fair. Fahim-Faraaz has held an internship at George Washington University for research in both nanotechnology and microbiology, and hopes that his research will contribute important data to the public health industry.

Fahim-Faraaz will be attending The George Washington University in the fall and plans to study Chemistry.

  • Nikhil Garg, a Sully District resident, is the co-founder and Chief Administrative Officer of Project Building Excitement for Science and Technology, a non-profit organization whose goal is to bring awareness and excitement to the subjects of science and technology. He also spends his time tutoring and mentoring elementary school students and attending Student Diplomat conferences. Nikhil currently serves as President of Business in Science, President of the iNVENT Team and Chief Financial Officer of Thomas Jefferson High School’s Investment Club. He has published work in the International Motion in Games Conference, has held an internship with the George Mason University Computer Systems Laboratory and is even a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do.

Nikhil will be attending the University of Notre Dame as a Hesburgh-Yusko Scholar this fall, with plans to study Finance and International Relations. Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars participate in a 4-year leadership development program at Notre Dame designed to engage young leaders’ intellect, creativity, and influence to serve their communities and the world, and includes summer enrichment experiences in the areas of Wilderness Leadership, Social Justice, Global Inquiry, and Professional Venture.

  • Alexis Graham, a Sully District resident who attends Madison High School, volunteers her time mentoring fellow students, organizing school supply drives for students in Fairfax County public Schools, and participating in programs like Homeless Hope and Relay4Life. She is serving as President of Madison's National Science Honor Society as well as Head of the Inova Playground Project. She also has played for Madison High School's Varsity Women’s Soccer team for four years and has coached a Fairfax County travel soccer team, the Herndon Saints. Alexis volunteered in the pediatric emergency room at INOVA Hospital this past summer and is a member of Madison's Medical Youth Society in hopes to gain experience for her desired career path.

Alexis will be attending the University of Virginia in the fall, and she plans to study biochemistry, following the pre-med track.

  • Celia Islam, a Providence District resident and Marshall High School student, has organized many different programs for causes that are close to her heart, including the Pennies for Patients campaign, a 5K walk in memory of Sam Solomon, and the Buddy Program at Chesterbrook Residence. She founded a non-profit organization that raises funds for impoverished children in developing countries called the Children’s Trust Fund, and is also a published writer for the Huffington Post. Celia has served as Concertmaster and President of the Marshall Philharmonic Orchestra, been a finalist in the Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair and is the president and Founder of the Marshall High School Key Club. Additionally, she has held an internship at the National Institute on Aging and with the George Washington University Department of Biochemistry.

Celia will be attending The George Washington University in the fall and has been admitted to the Seven Year BA/MD program.

  • Julie Kim, a resident of the Dranesville District attending Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology, is not only the captain of her speed skating team but also takes the time to work with disabled children, teaching them how to skate. Julie is an English tutor to low-income students in Fairfax County as well as deaf students at Gallaudet University, along with being the founder and President of the Helping Hands Outreach Club that focuses on fundraising to support other community service efforts. She is the President of the TJHSST Chemistry Society, Finance Officer of the Varsity Math Team and a top level violinist for the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. Julie has held internships at the Naval Research Laboratory and the National Institute of Health. She was recently named a 2014 Presidential Scholar.

Julie will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall and plans to study either Chemistry or Biological Engineering.

  • Sarah McKeown, a Mt. Vernon District resident attending West Potomac High School, is a founding member of her school’s Best Buddies program, has completed her Girl Scout Gold Award and serves as a Deacon for her church. Sarah has participated in the Virginia’s Governor’s School for Humanities, Stanford University Education Program for Gifted Youth, a medical mission trip to Guatemala, and National Honor Society. She currently serves as Senior Class President and Captain of the West Potomac Crew team, and is also a charter and four-year member of West Potomac's Witty Fools Shakespeare Troupe, one of the most enriching things she has done in high school.

Sarah is honored to be attending Johns Hopkins University in the fall and plans to study International Studies or Public Health.

  • Amanda Nelson, a resident of the Hunter Mill District attending Westfield High School, makes a difference in her community through coaching a girls soccer team, tutoring, and her involvement with Relay for Life. She also looks forward to mission trips with her church every summer. Amanda is the Vice President of the Westfield High School Chapter of National Honor Society, the Captain of Westfield’s Varsity Women’s Basketball team, a member of the Varsity Women’s Soccer team and was on the school’s Homecoming Court this year. She has held an internship with a cardiothoracic surgeon and now works for a doctor’s office in hopes of gaining experience on her path to become a doctor.

Amanda will be attending the University of Virginia in the fall and plans to study biochemistry.

  • Timothy Tran, a Lee District resident attending Lee High School, is the manager of Growth and Inspiration through Volunteering and Education (GIVE), a non-profit tutoring center in Fairfax County. He is the founder of the Lee High School Painters, President of the Lee High School Key Club, Spanish Honor Society President, Vice President of National History Honor Society and Class Senator for Student Government. Timothy has been selected to attend the American Legion Boys State of Virginia conference, the National Hispanic Environmental Council and the United States Marine Corps Summer Leadership and Character Development Academy. He has been a four sport Varsity athlete, participating on the wrestling, cross county and golf teams, and as captain of Lee’s soccer team.

Timothy will be attending Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering in the fall and plans to study Computer Science.

For more information or questions regarding the Community Spirit Scholarship Program or the Friends of Celebrate Fairfax, please contact CFI President & CEO, Barry Feil, by email at Barry.Feil@FairfaxCounty.gov or by phone at 703-324-5315.

Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501(c) 3 organization commissioned in 1982 by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Its mission, "The Celebration of Fairfax County and Its Communities," is met through the production of the Celebrate Fairfax! Festival, Fall for Fairfax KidsFest, and educational programs such as Events101. For more information call 703-324-5315 or visit the website at www.celebratefairfax.com.