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Lauren Shifrin of Fairfax, a senior at Old Dominion University, is interning this summer at Memphis, Tenn.-based Youth Villages, a private nonprofit dedicated to helping children and families live successfully.

Youth Villages treats hard-to-help, hard-to-place children who have emotional and behavioral problems plus co-occurring medical issues. Many have suffered abuse or neglect.

Shifrin is working at Youth Villages’ Dogwood Campus, located on 41 secluded acres on the outskirts of Memphis. The residential campus offers a peaceful atmosphere for boys ages 8-17 and girls ages 11-17 who have serious emotional and behavioral problems.

Shifrin, who is majoring in human services with a minor in social welfare, graduated from Hayfield Secondary School.

Youth Villages this year will serve more than 20,000 children and families in 11 states and Washington, D.C., through intensive in-home services, residential treatment, foster care and adoption, transitional living services, mentoring and crisis services.

The White House recently identified Youth Villages as one of the nation’s most promising results-oriented nonprofit organizations. It also has been recognized by Harvard Business School and U.S. News & World Report. For more, visit

Student-scientist conducts cutting-edge research in Israel

Pierce Eggan, a college-bound Fairfax Station resident, is one of 19 U.S. students chosen to attend the summer science program at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, one of the world’s foremost centers of scientific research and graduate study.

Eggan, a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, applied for the 45th annual Dr. Bessie Lawrence International Summer Science Institute to pursue his passion for scientific research. He says he hopes that his experience will further his research scope, allow him to meet interesting people and help him learn more about Israel.

The four-week intensive science exploration affords students the opportunity to work in small groups with world-renowned scientists and graduate students, conducting actual, ongoing research. Participants select a subject area in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics or computer sciences.

Eggan’s previous experiences include working at TJHSST’s Biotechnology Laboratory conducting a research project of his own make and design, “Effects of RF Radiation on the Blood Brain Barrier,” as well as participating in the Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program at George Mason University.

TJ grad serves as French Embassy fellow

Anna Nikolova of Fairfax, a junior majoring in international relations at the College of William & Mary, is a recipient of one of this year’s Pamela Harriman Foreign Service Fellowships. She is serving as the 2013 Harriman Fellow in the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France.

Nikolova has studied abroad for two semesters. She spent the 2012 fall semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina, taking intensive Spanish language courses and volunteering at a local NGO. This spring, she was enrolled at L’Institut D’Études Politiques in Lille, France, where she volunteered at the French Red Cross.

She graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

Harriman Fellowships are nationally competitive and highly selective, providing funding for students participating in summer internships at the U.S. Embassies in London and Paris, and in the Secretary of State’s Office in Washington, D.C.

Reston history teacher is best in state

Fairfax County educator Katie Blomquist is the 2013 Virginia History Teacher of the Year, selected by the Virginia Department of Education, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, History and Preserve America.

Blomquist, a fourth-grade Virginia studies teacher, has taught at Sunrise Valley Elementary School in Reston for six years.

She has served as the social studies lead, then cluster lead teacher, since 2006. In 2012, she was honored as the Virginia Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year and was featured in a video highlighting the Fairfax County School Board’s achievement goals.

“Katie Blomquist demonstrates her love of history by actively engaging her students in the learning process through the use of primary sources, historic documents and stories of the past,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright. “In her artifact-filled classroom, she promotes a deeper understanding of the past through high-level questioning, animated discussions and creative activities.”

Blomquist was one of 16 nominees for the award. She received a $1,000 award from the Gilder Lehrman Institute and is the commonwealth’s nominee for the National History Teacher of the Year Award, to be announced later this year. In addition, the institute will donate a collection of history books and reference materials to the Sunrise Valley Elementary School library.

National honors for Centreville dean

Patricia Gary of Centreville, assistant dean in mathematics at the Manassas Campus of Northern Virginia Community College, was honored by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development for outstanding contributions to teaching, leadership and learning.

The 2013 Excellence Awards were presented during the 35th Annual International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence in Austin, Texas.

Scholarship recipients

Emily Morley of Vienna was awarded a merit-based scholarship by the U.S. Department of State to study in China this summer. The scholarship was awarded in connection with the State Department’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth. Morley is a senior at Trinity Christian School in Fairfax. Before leaving for China, she participated in Virginia Girls State at Longwood University.

The University of South Carolina has chosen two Fairfax County students to receive McNair Scholar Awards, valued at $15,000 per year for four years: Andrew Freix of Centreville, a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology; and Brett Williams of Annandale, a graduate of St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School.

Each award comes with a tuition reduction, which translates into a scholarship package worth more than $128,600. More than 2,200 students applied for scholars awards, making it the largest and most competitive applicant pool in USC’s history.

Grants for families with sick children

The Reston-based UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation is looking for families who need financial assistance to help pay for their child’s health care treatments, services or equipment not covered, or not fully covered, by their commercial health insurance plan.

Qualifying families can receive up to $5,000 per grant to help pay for medical services and equipment, such as physical, occupational and speech therapy, counseling services, surgeries, prescriptions, wheelchairs, orthotics, eyeglasses and hearing aids.

Children must be 16 years of age or younger, and families must meet economic guidelines, reside in the United States and have a commercial health insurance plan. Grants are available for medical expenses families have incurred 60 days prior to the date of application as well as for ongoing and future medical needs. Parents or legal guardians may apply for grants at There is no deadline.

Since 2011, UHCCF has awarded more than $200,000 in Virginia for treatments associated with cancer, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, hearing loss, autism, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, ADHD and cerebral palsy.