Luminari Award

The Luminari Award is our annual scholarship competition takes place between October and January. Please contact for more information or to apply.

Meet the winners of our 2023 Luminari Awards

by Patrice Lee, Operations Administrator

Effective communication is mastered when one can not only comprehend what another person is saying but to acknowledge and empathize with their position.  You do not need to agree with their perception but rather understand where and why they have the position they do. That is just one of the skills of an effective diplomat. Diplomacy is key to ever successful interaction and at Luminari’s “I Want to be an Ambassador!” camp we strive to demonstrate this and all of the other skills of an ambassador.  Armed with these newfound skills, teens can now utilize them in their everyday lives. Each year Luminari conducts an essay competition which invites teens to write about what diplomacy means to them. The competition is open to all Pittsburgh-area students currently in grades 7 through 11.

We are excited to announce that two winners have been selected as our coveted merit scholars-one from all eligible students in the area and one chosen from among students enrolled in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program. It is an honor to introduce you to this year’s Luminari Award Scholars: Arshia Zaidi and Nolvin Buezo Gutierrez 

Arshia is a sophomore at North Allegheny Intermediate.  Born to two immigrant parents she has always been acutely aware of differing cultures. As a result, she has been interested in diplomacy as far back as she can remember. She believes that every aspect of our lives is affected by diplomacy, not just countries and governments but also trying to convince your sister to let you wear her necklace or attempting to reach a compromise with your parents after getting in trouble. To her, the most important part of diplomacy is its focus on communication over conflict.  Arshia hopes to improve her skills in public speaking, leadership, and to gain knowledge of public affairs and the true meaning behind diplomacy.

Nolvin immigrated to the United States in July 2021 from Honduras. and is a junior at Avonworth High School. He learned quickly the need to use tact and good communication skills to effectively navigate people of different backgrounds. He likes to use humor to help defuse disagreement between his peers and lighten the mood. He has found that a friendly greeting to everyone makes for a more approachable situation and really breaks the ice. Variety of teachers and teaching styles  have also challenged him to quickly observe and mimic the desired behaviors and expectations. Through all of these new and challenging experiences he has come to understand the importance of diplomacy.  Nolvin hopes to learn new skills to put to work in his new home.

“I Want to be an Ambassador!” is unlike any other program in the region due to its innovative and progressive curriculum that offers invaluable lessons for all teens to apply what they learn immediately in their daily lives. Just as an ambassador must display behaviors and attitudes which respectfully represent their country to solve world challenges, campers will learn to effectively represent their families, schools and communities and start solving problems at a grassroots level. This year’s camp runs from June 13-16 in Pittsburgh and June 19-21 in Washington D.C. where we will visit several embassies and engage with diplomats and dignitaries from around the world.

Arshia and Nolvin will be joined by 18 other diverse, enthusiastic teens looking to bring about positive change through the ripple effect of mutual respect and diplomacy this summer. Will you be one of them? If your teen is interested in attending “I Want to be an Ambassador!” camp on June 13-21, please visit our website at or email our administrator at for more information.

2023 Luminari Award Merit Scholars

Nolvin Buezo Gutierrez (ESL), Avonworth School District
Arshia Zaidi, North Allegheny School District

2022 Luminari Award Merit Scholars

Mitantsiky Rakotozafy (ESL), Mt. Lebanon School District
Benjamin Quint, North Allegheny School District

2020/21 Luminari Award Merit Scholars

Vanya Fuller (ESL), Bethel Park School District
Anna Oestreich, Norwin School District

2019 Luminari Award Merit Scholars

Hend Hamada (ESL), Fox Chapel Area School District
Cara Leonardi, Moon Area School District

2018 Luminari Award Merit Scholars

Fakhar Almlook Munaf Mohammed (ESL), Carlynton School District
Owen Chaffin, Home School student, Bethel Park School District

2017 Luminari Award Merit Scholars

Jesus Chacin (ESL), Avonworth School District
Kailee Monaghan, Canon-McMillan School District

2016 Luminari Award Merit Scholars

Hao Nguyen (ESL), Sto-Rox School District
Emily Smith, Propel Schools

 2015 Luminari Award Merit Scholars

Vladyslav Makarenko (ESL), Mt. Lebanon School District
Rohit Nandakumar, Fox Chapel Area School District

2014 Luminari Award Merit Scholars

Jacob Clark, West Jefferson Hills School District
Zyaire Fisher, Propel Schools
Kaylee Gross, Chartiers Valley School District
David Han, Fox Chapel Area School District
Sydney Reyes, Riverview School District

2013 Luminari Award Merit Scholars

Sophie Belch, Riverview School District
Nathan Bindseil, Central Catholic, Diocese of Pittsburgh
Abigail Eberts, Moon Area School District
Shannon Kim, Fox Chapel Area School District
Troy Miles, Propel Schools

2012 Luminari Award Merit Scholars

Rohan Chalasani, Fox Chapel Area School District
Nicolas May, Chartiers Valley School District
Malaysia Meador, Propel Schools
Brandon Quinn, Central Catholic, Diocese of Pittsburgh