FLINNtalks

Nathan Johnson | 1986 Flinn Scholar
in conversation with Jake Batsell | 1992 Flinn Scholar

On how the Flinn Scholarship can enhance a focus—or enable extraordinary exploration

A member of the inaugural Class of 1986 Flinn Scholars, Nathan Johnson was elected to the Texas State Senate in November 2018 to represent District 16, comprising all or portions of 10 cities in the northern part of Dallas County. He practices law at Thompson & Knight as counsel in the firm’s Trial Practice Group in Dallas. Johnson, who graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in physics and earned a law degree at the University of Texas at Austin, also trained as a pianist and has composed music for the classical concert stage. During a hiatus from practicing law, he composed the score for nearly seventy television episodes and five films for the hit anime series Dragon Ball Z.

Class of 1992 Flinn Scholar Jake Batsell is an associate professor of journalism at Southern Methodist University. The author of Engaged Journalism: Connecting with Digitally Empowered News Audiences, he was a reporter for the Seattle Times and Dallas Morning News before joining SMU in 2008. Batsell is a graduate of Arizona State University and earned a master’s degree in government at the University of Texas at Austin.


Matt Rolland | 2005 Flinn Scholar

On the road—from stockbroker, to touring musician, to arts leader

Class of 2005 Flinn Scholar Matt Rolland has had a fiddle in his hand since the age of four. Best known as the bandleader and fiddle player for the Tucson-based band, Run Boy Run, Matt has performed at festivals and concert halls across the country, released six studio albums and was twice featured on American Public Media’s popular radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion.” In addition to being a touring musician and recording artist, he is the director of programs at SAACA (Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance) and serves on the board of the Tucson Folk Festival. Matt is a graduate of the University of Arizona and was a Fulbright Scholar to Mexico.


Shelly Lowe | 1992 Flinn Scholar

On the higher-education experiences of American Indian students

Class of 1992 Flinn Scholar Shelly Lowe is executive director of the Harvard University Native American Program. An enrolled member of the Navajo nation, she graduated from Ganado High School and studied at the University of Arizona as a Flinn Scholar. Shelly has served on the board of the National Indian Education Association and as a trustee for the National Museum of the American Indian, and in 2016 President Barack Obama appointed her to the National Endowment for the Humanities Council. She has presented and published in the field of American Indian higher education and is currently completing her doctorate in higher education with a focus on American Indian student success and services.


Upcoming FLINNtalks

Michelle Minitti | 1991 Flinn Scholar

Class of 1991 Flinn Scholar Michelle Minitti is the principal of Framework, a consultancy specializing in planetary science research and Mars mission operations, and is a co-investigator on projects for the Mars 2020 and Mars Curiosity rovers.


Marla Smith-Nilson | 1987 Flinn Scholar

Class of 1987 Flinn Scholar Marla Smith-Nilson is the founder and executive director of Water 1st International, which enables the world’s poorest people to implement and sustain community-managed projects integrating clean water supply, toilets, and hygiene education.


Kris Mayes | 1990 Flinn Scholar

Class of 1990 Flinn Scholar Kris Mayes, formerly chair of the Arizona Corporation Commission, is a professor of practice in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and director of the Utility of the Future Center at Arizona State University.