Graduating Flinn Scholars set off on new adventures

May 15, 2010

By hammersmith

The community of Flinn Scholar alumni will exceed 380 as of Sunday evening, when 16 graduates will be honored at the Flinn Scholars Program’s annual Recognition Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in Phoenix. The Recognition Dinner, where graduates will be joined by the newest class of Scholars, family members, university officials, and community leaders, will also begin a year-long celebration of the Scholars Program’s 25th Anniversary. The first Flinn Scholars were selected in 1986.

Among the newest graduates of the Scholars Program are future teachers, doctors, researcher scientists, artists, and community leaders. As an undergraduate, Shruti Bala served on the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism, and Bob Hanshaw was assistant director of the University of Arizona Symphonic Choir. Lauren Myers was a research intern at the Vitreous State Laboratory in Washington, D.C., Wylie Timmerman served as press secretary and research director for the Ed Hermes for County Supervisor campaign, and Julie Swarstad was named the most valuable player for the Pride of Arizona Marching Band.

In some cases, the graduates’ future destinations vary considerably. Yichao Wang, for instance, will begin graduate studies in acting at the California Institute of the Arts. Ben Strauber, a Gates Cambridge Scholar, will pursue a master’s degree in neuroscience in education at England’s Cambridge University.

Meanwhile, though, five Scholars will begin medical school this summer, with three remaining close to home. Noura Mustafa and Jay Thongkham will attend the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, and Michele O’Shea will attend the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix. Journeying further, Neeru Narla will matriculate at Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minn., and Poorvi Patel will attend the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine.

Joining Wang and Patel in California for graduate school will be Paul Schaffert, pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Stanford University, and Alan Mackey, beginning a doctoral program in mathematics at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Two graduating Scholars will be in the classroom again in the fall, but instead of as students, they will be corps members in Teach for America. Am Norgren will be placed in Washington, D.C., and Ke Wu will be placed in Los Angeles.

“The breadth and depth of expertise and achievement among these 16 graduates illustrates well what the Flinn Scholarship helps to make possible,” said Michael Cochise Young, Flinn Foundation assistant vice president for scholarship programs. “Already, these young adults are emerging as the future leaders in their wonderfully diverse fields.

“We are tremendously proud of both the new knowledge they are creating and who they are becoming,” Dr. Young said.