The Romanian American National Heritage Award is an annual competition for youth with Romanian heritage or background. Applicants of non-Romanian descent may qualify, as long as their work and experience relate to Romania or the Romanian community in the US. 

Presented by the American Romanian Cultural Society and Alianta, with the endorsement of the Embassy of Romania to the United States 

Romanian American National Heritage Awards, 4th edition - 2020

Ștefan Ene - Platinum National Award (Sunset High School, Portland, OR)A third-time participant, Ștefan has applied with a wonderful project  Code Sinaia 2020 that connects Romanian American teens passionate about coding and programming to their peers in Romania. Ștefan was part of the international team that planned and delivered this project last summer, with people from the West Coast of the United States, all the way to an undergrad student from South Africa. His role went beyond helping as an assistant for the courses before the actual summer school began, including website creator and manager, social media presence coordinator, and helping with developing the curriculum. As the online week of courses started, his responsibilities shifted to guiding the participant students through their project. 

This project represented an opportunity for Ștefan to grow both as a teaching assistant and programmer, as well as a way for him to give back to students close to his age. A great outcome of their project has been learning from and working with engineers and university professors in the computer science area. 

Ana Ilinca Hagiu - Platinum, West  (The Overlake School, WA)                A second-time participant, Ilinca Hagiu is excited to be able to contribute to the Romanian community and is looking forward to helping the instructors at the Romanian School in WA prepare their online classes during the pandemic. Ilinca has been volunteering at the school since 2019. She loves working with children, bringing her heritage to the classroom. She hopes that her work helps develop a meaningful connection for young children to their families’ traditions and culture. During the pandemic, Ilinca organized a virtual piano recital for her family and friends in Romania, and has deeply enjoyed using music to create a bridge between her two cultures. 

Nicole Sandu - Platinum, Central (Lane Tech College Prep, IL)Nicole has been leading a book club for children from the Romanian community in the Chicago area. She enjoys the sense of comfort of being in a community who shares a similar cultural background. She firmly believes that as humans, we need to express our ideas in a community that understands who we are. Leading a book club has helped Nicole grow closer to her Romanian roots and culture. Especially during these times, when community and togetherness are more important than ever, she is increasingly thankful for this book club and the kids she gets to talk with every month. 

Read an outstanding interview with Nicole and find out her views on being Romanian -American. 

Andra Marinescu- Gold National (Skyline High School, WA)

During her time volunteering at various ARCS projects, including the Romanian Center of Excellence, as well as for the Taste of Romania festival, Andra has immersed herself in her parents' rich and vibrant culture. Participating in multiple programs allowed her to work with many different kinds of people. Helping at Romanian festivals gave her valuable insight to growing up with a different lifestyle. Teaching children at the Romanian Center of Excellence was her way of passing on to younger children the knowledge she gained from her relatives, as well as other community members. She highly valued her time teaching and helping children feel connected to their roots.

Larisa Sâmbotin- Silver, West (Skyline High School, WA)

Realizing how important it is to keep the connection with her heritage, this year Larisa worked to help one of her friends in Romania learn English and discover American culture. This was also a wonderful opportunity for her to find out new things about Romanian culture, as well. She has been enjoying this project and is planning to expand it to involve more Romanian children. She believes her project has helped her understand more about who she is as a Romanian American. 

Mission and Purpose

The award recognizes exceptional contributions to the cohesion of the Romanian community and the preservation of its heritage, language, culture and traditions.

Recognition and Awards

All eligible participants will receive the official recognition of the Romanian Embassy in United States and the top winners will receive scholarships of up to $500 dollars each. 

The award has helped the recipients distinguish themselves in their admission process to top colleges and institutions, such as Dartmouth College, Wesleyan Univ, Pitzer College, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, Whitman College, Purdue Univ, UW Honors, and many others. 

Eligibility for participation
​Age and residence: For the 2021 edition, participants must be enrolled in High School in United States for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

Academic: Minimum unweighted High School GPA of 3.0 – or equivalent, running average for the last school year.

Team work: Both individuals and teams can participate in the competition. Participation in teams is encouraged. To encourage leadership and simplify the evaluation process, the maximum team size is 5.

There are no Romanian or US citizenship requirements. There are no fees required, this competition is entirely free to participate for eligible students.

Eligibility for national participants
The top 5 winners of the regional competitions advance to the national competition

Evaluation criteria
The following criteria will be used in the evaluation process (not all criteria are required, but they will strengthen your application): 

1) Community work and leadership
The number of volunteering hours and their visible outcome and results will be a strong factor in the evaluation. Where applicable and possible, volunteering and community work in Romania (e.g. groundbreaking projects with children, youth and seniors from underprivileged social backgrounds, or religious and ethnic minorities) will receive the jury's highest consideration. Please highlight this aspect in your application. 

Please provide a detailed description of your working experience, highlighting the ways in which your activity and leadership initiatives impacted the targeted community,  strengthening its civic spirit and sense of unity, bringing awareness to the role of the Romanian language and traditions in shaping the Romanian American identity and legacy in the US. The description should be either in Romanian or in English, and should not exceed 650 words. 

2) Essay 
Please submit an essay that will describe how your community work influenced your own personal growth and brought awarness to your bicultural and bilingual identity in the US. We strongly encourage applicants to model their essay from their college application essays, following a similar structure and attention to detail. The essay shall have no less than 200 words and no more than 650 words.

3) Recommendations from local community leaders
Your essay and recommendations will play an important role in the evaluation process. A formal letter is not required, a name and contact info (email and/or phone number) will be sufficient. The contest organizers will reach out to confirm the recommendations.

Romanian Heritage Connection
Applicants of any cultural backgrounds may qualify, as long as they are able to prove their interest, work experience and connection to Romania. 
Examples of such proof:

  • Passing an officially recognized Romanian language test – where available
  • An essay in Romanian 
  • Volunteer work in Romania

* For past editions, winners and photos, please visit Romanian American Heritage Award page.


American Romanian Cultural Society


With the Support of the Romanian Embassy in Washington D.C. 

We are soliciting donations from the community to support the scholarship funds for the award winners.
If you’d like to become a sponsor, send us an email at or donate to our fundraiser. Please support scholarships for the dedicated youth of our community, thank you!




Fundraising Campaign

We are soliciting donations from the community to support the scholarship funds for the award winners. If you’d like to become a sponsor, send us an email at or donate to our fundraiser. Please support scholarships for the dedicated youth of our community! Thank you!





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Checks are welcome. Please address them to:

American Romanian Cultural Society
1931 E Lynn St
Seattle, WA 98112



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