We’re thrilled to share the fantastic news that Andre Samaraweera, a former student in the Mercy Ships Academy, has been selected to win a National Merit Scholarship! Andre was a student in the Academy from August 2007 to June 2017, Starting in Preschool through the end of Junior High, Grade 8. Andre recently graduated with honors from Lindale High School. Receiving the National Merit Scholarship is a high honor that speaks to Andre’s hard work, perseverance, and academic success. From a pre-selected 1.5 million students, only 15,000 receive the scholarship, valued at $16,000.

Andre was student in the Mercy Ships Academy for 10 years, onboard the Africa Mercy. He left a lasting legacy and impact on the staff. Here a few encouraging comments from some of his teachers:

“A quick smile, ready wit, keen imagination and good-natured competitive edge made Andre successful on the Africa Mercy, whether in academics, Chess Club, or sports. Though intentional about his own goals, he is a willing friend and a joy to be around!” – Kim Robison, Junior High and High School English Teacher

“I had the privilege of being Andre’s teacher for two years in a row. During those years, I have gotten to know him as a boy who had a wide range of interests and had the heart of a learner. I don’t think there ever was a day that Andre didn’t ask a question or added some fun fact to the conversation. Apart from his intelligence, his high participation always stood out to me. He was “present” during each lesson and activity, always enthusiastic, always engaged!” – Remy van den Bogreadt, Grade 4 & 5 Class Teacher

“Intelligent, smart, resourceful – always up for a joke and a challenge. He is great fun to be around” – Karen Cillers, Junior High and High School Science Teacher

“As an eighth-grader, Andre was incredibly bright! I’m not surprised in the least at him being awarded the highly-coveted National Merit Scholarship. Andre has an insatiable curiosity to learn new things and face unforeseen challenges. His curiosity, resilience, kindness, and ambition will bring him far in life. I can’t wait to see how he changes the world.” – Moriah Ozodi, Junior High and High Social Studies School Teacher

Congratulations from the Mercy Ships Academy, Andre – we’re so proud of you and know that you will thrive in this next chapter of your life!


Nikki Aldum
Academy Director