2024 Award Winners

Honors Scholar and Emerging Honors Scholar of the Year Award Recipients (2024)

The 202 winners are Elea Abisamra of Virginia Tech (Honors Scholar of the Year) and Masha Balakersky of Shenandoah University (Emerging Scholar of the Year).  The VCHC is grateful to have Elea Abisamra and Masha Balakersky studying in the Commonwealth of Virginia and teh contributions they have made to the community around them. The selection committee judged their personal essays exceptional, and letters of support superior in their detailed account of academic and co-curricular accomplishments.

Elea Abisamra is an honors student and research fellow studying Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience at Virginia Tech. She also serves as the College of Science Representative for the Honors College Student Council. With unwavering passions in STEM, writing, service, and entrepreneurship, alongside fervent desires to become a doctor and researcher, she dedicates herself to transformative endeavors benefiting others. Elea authored her first book at age ten, sparking a mission to empower children globally. As CEO of Kids Can Write, she leads a nonprofit empowering over 100 young authors and integrating STEM education. With a publication in Cell on "The Power of Storytelling In STEM," Elea seeks collaborative ventures to amplify her impact. Guided by her advocacy in education and neuroscience, she envisions pursuing an MD/PhD in Educational Neuroscience to revolutionize personalized approaches to education.

Masha Balakersky is nearing completion of her sophomore year, attending Shenandoah University as an Exercise Science Honors student. Throughout her time there, she has set a goal for herself to make a difference, both on and off campus. She has learned, however, that whether it is a short-term change or a long-term change is not principal; time and time again, she has shown that making herself a present and impactful voice across groups on campus has proven to lead the student body to greater successes. In her two short years at Shenandoah, she has spent her Summers serving the incoming freshman and transfer cohorts as an Orientation Leader, and has taken on the roles of Chief of Staff of the Student Body Government as well as Secretary of the Honors Program. Although no task should come easy to a leader, Masha has made it a goal to truly understand her purpose as an Honors student and leader, and she hopes to continue making a strong impact moving forward. 

2024 VCHC Scholar of the Year Award Nominees

Adaly Asencio Veza – Marymount University

Daniel Nivens – Hampden-Sydney College

Elea-Maria Abisamra - Virginia Tech

Ellie Bavuso – Virginia Commonwealth University

Logan Kurtz – University of Mary Washington

Lucas Biscan-White – Radford University

Luis Gutierrez Palacios – Bridgewater College

Ryan Gobble – Ferrum College

Taylor Brown – Concord University

2024 VCHC Emerging Scholar of the Year Award Nominees

Ansen Lackner – Hampden-Sydney College

Dominika Butler – Radford University

Isaac Plange – Bridgewater College

Krista Carlton – Virginia Tech

Lojy Hozyen – Virginia Commonwealth University

Masha Balakersky – Shenandoah University

Sierra VanTichelt – Longwood University