Seventeen of Arizona’s highest-achieving high-school seniors have decided to attend one of the state’s public universities on a Flinn Scholarship. The award includes funding for four years of study, academic-focused travel abroad, mentorship by top faculty, and other benefits. Altogether, the package is worth more than $50,000–on top of the cash value of tuition, provided by the student’s chosen university.
The members of the 24th class of Flinn Scholars were honored Sunday evening before more than 200 family members, educators, university officials, and fellow Flinn Scholars at the program’s annual Recognition Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in Phoenix. Each new Flinn Scholar also recognized on stage an educator of great influence from high-school or earlier.
The new class of Scholars is drawn from 13 high schools in eight Arizona cities: Chandler, Flagstaff, Mesa, Patagonia, Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson, and Yuma. Three students were selected from Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson, and two Scholars were named from both Hamilton High School in Chandler and Corona del Sol High School in Tempe.
“These are students who could have attended virtually any college or university in the nation, in many cases with substantial scholarship offers,” said John W. Murphy, president and CEO of the Flinn Foundation. “It testifies to the competitiveness and sustained excellence of our three public universities that these 17 individuals have chosen to study in Arizona.
“Our new Scholars have impeccable academic records,” Murphy continued, “and they have set equally high standards outside the classroom in leadership roles within their schools and communities, and in their talents in the arts and athletics.”
As a group, the class averaged scores of 1450 of a possible 1600 on the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), and 33 of a possible 36 on the American College Test (ACT). Seven students are National Merit Scholars–a benchmark honor of the top echelon of students nationally. Two are National Hispanic Scholars, and one is a National Achievement Scholar.
The Flinn Scholars were chosen from an applicant pool of more than 500 of Arizona’s high-achieving students. In addition to outstanding academic performance, selection criteria included achievement and demonstrated leadership in extracurricular activities and community or school service. Applicants submitted three essays and had two personal interviews.
Murphy acknowledged that the incoming Flinn Scholar class is smaller than 20 students for only the second time in 24 years.
“Several Scholar-designates declined our offer this year,” he said. “Some candidates indicated their decision was prompted by recent cuts to higher education by the Arizona Legislature, and the uncertainty about whether class sizes will increase and top faculty may flee. Losing even a few Scholars diminishes Arizona.”
The Flinn Scholars Program is among a handful of statewide or regional merit-based undergraduate scholarship programs run by private philanthropies. In addition to eight semesters of study at an Arizona university, the scholarship award includes:
- a three-week intensive seminar in Eastern Europe;
- at least one additional study/travel experience abroad or in the United States;
- mentorship by a university faculty member in the Scholar’s field of study;
- invitations to cultural events and activities designed to introduce the Scholars to leaders in various fields;
- opportunities to participate with university faculty in research programs and professional meetings.
Baseline requirements for applicants were:
- a minimum 3.5 grade-point average;
- a ranking in the top 5 percent of their graduating class;
- a minimum score of 1280 on the SAT test or 29 on the ACT;
- demonstrated leadership abilities.
To retain the scholarship, Scholars must maintain a cumulative 3.2 grade-point average and participate in campus or community activities.
The Flinn Scholars Program, begun in 1986, is operated by the Flinn Foundation Scholarship Program LLC and supported by the Flinn Foundation, a private, nonprofit, grantmaking charity based in Phoenix. The Foundation was established in 1965 by the late Dr. and Mrs. Robert S. Flinn with the broad mission of improving the quality of life in Arizona.
In addition to the Scholars program, the Foundation’s primary emphasis is developing Arizona as a global bioscience research and commercial center.