It’s a warm October day in Arizona, and my older sister has just finished submitting her Flinn application. She is beaming, and I am beaming along with her.
To me, she was the ideal candidate: smart, driven, a success in everything she did, a future doctor. She checked all the boxes, while I felt I fit into none of them. I told myself that day I would not apply for the Flinn Scholarship. What was the use, when I wanted to get my degree in musical theatre?
Fast forward three years, and I am ready to click that button to submit my application. Every answer has been triple checked, every essay written, edited, and rewritten, and every transcript sent in. But instead of smiling, all I can feel is an intense and overwhelming fear.
I shouldn’t even be here, I thought, even though I wanted it so badly. Why was I doing this?
When I advanced to the semifinalist interviews, and met my fellow applicants, I felt like an imposter. These were some of the most accomplished high schoolers in the state, ranging from national debate champions, to winners of prestigious engineering competitions, to 17-year-olds with research fellowships. I was just a girl who really liked music, theatre, and fine arts.
However, this feeling slowly dissipated as I went through the process of interviews and university visits and getting to know other potential Scholars. I came in with the notion that the Flinn Scholarship was only for STEM majors or for students with more academically inclined interests. But the people I met never made me feel inferior. Rather, they helped me resolve some of that long-held insecurity.
Part of what is special about the Flinn Scholars Program is you find out that you have more in common with your fellow Scholars than you first thought. By the time my first day of freshman year arrived, I had learned that almost every person in my class sang or played an instrument and had been involved in the arts programs at their high schools, while some even shared my love for classical music and were participants in youth symphony programs. Learning this helped lift me out of my insecurity and showed me that my presence in the Scholars Program is for a reason, and that I deserve to be here.
I would like to take a moment to address all of the future applicants who are like me and want to study a non-STEM field in college. We may be told in high school that those interests are hobbies, and we should study something “worthwhile” or “lucrative.”
That could not be further from the truth.
The world we live in could not function without artists or writers or philosophers or any number of other fields. Do not let your interests deter you from applying for this scholarship; they should be the reason you are applying. I am so grateful that the most important people in my life pushed me to apply for the Flinn Scholarship, because it has not only given me opportunities beyond my wildest dreams, but it has also given me a community of people who support me through anything.
Wishing you well on your journey—
2016 Flinn Scholar