As program turns 25, newest Flinn Scholars choose Arizona universities

May 17, 2010

By hammersmith

Twenty of Arizona’s most accomplished high-school seniors have been announced as recipients of the Flinn Scholarship, one of the most competitive and prestigious undergraduate awards in the nation. The students, who constitute the 25th class of Flinn Scholars, will attend one of Arizona’s three public universities with a truly comprehensive package of support that includes tuition, room and board, personal mentorship by top faculty, and funding for international study and research.

The cash value of tuition is provided to Scholars via a partnership with the universities. The additional benefits of the Flinn Scholarship are worth at least $54,000 more.

The 20 students represented 14 high schools in 11 Arizona cities: Chandler, Glendale, Gilbert, Flagstaff, Mesa, Phoenix, Prescott, Sierra Vista, Tempe, Tucson, and Yuma. Three Scholars were named from both Prescott High School and University High School in Tucson; two were selected from both Corona del Sol High School in Tempe and Highland High School in Gilbert.

The Flinn Scholars Class of 2010 was officially introduced last night at the program’s annual Recognition Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in Phoenix, where they were honored before some 250 family members, university officials, community leaders, and Flinn Scholars from throughout the program’s first quarter-century. The dinner represented the beginning of a yearlong celebration of the Scholars Program’s growth and contributions to Arizona.

David J. Gullen, M.D., chair of the Flinn Foundation board of directors, welcomed guests to the dinner, citing the board’s longstanding support for the Flinn Scholars Program.

 “Only a population that is broadly and deeply educated and engaged can ensure a vibrant future for Arizona. From its inception, the Scholars Program was an ambitious effort to develop the capacity of individuals and our public universities to fulfill that purpose,” Dr. Gullen said.

“The Foundation’s board is tremendously proud of how–from the inaugural class in 1986 through today–Flinn Scholars have demonstrated intellectual acuity and agility, informed risk-taking, and an ability to envision ambitious goals and develop creative means to achieve them,” he added.

Upon being brought to the stage at the dinner, each of the 20 new Scholars saluted an educator from high school or earlier who had conveyed a particularly important influence. And at the end of the evening’s program, the Scholars Program paid tribute to the achievements of 16 graduating Scholars now beginning a range of service, graduate-school, and professional pursuits.

The 25th class of Flinn Scholars emerged from a pool of more than 550 applicants, making the scholarship significantly more competitive than the nation’s most selective liberal-arts colleges and research universities. Semifinalists for the award were interviewed in January, and in March, finalists gathered at the Flinn Foundation’s offices to interview with a Selection Committee comprised of distinguished Arizona leaders. 

“These students have been courted by the best universities in the country for at least the past two years, and rightly so,” said Jack Jewett, president and CEO of the Flinn Foundation. “They are intellectually brilliant and curious, dedicated to their communities, and eager to make a difference in the world. Meeting and getting to know these students renews my belief that Arizona can nurture the future leaders our state needs.

“That these Scholars have chosen to continue their educations in Arizona affirms the strengths and breadth of our universities and their Honors programs,” Jewett added. “At Arizona’s universities, these students can choose virtually any path they want and follow it as far as they want–with world-renowned faculty to guide them.”

At the dinner, Shaun Kirkpatrick, a member of the Flinn Scholars Class of 1987, addressed the incoming and graduating Scholars. Kirkpatrick, the president and CEO of Research Corporation Technologies, Inc., a Tucson-based technology investment and management firm, is the first Scholar alumnus to serve on the Flinn Foundation Board of Directors. This year, he represented the board on the selection committee that interviewed Flinn Scholar finalists.

As a group, the new Scholars averaged 1450 out of 1600 on the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), and 33 of a possible 36 on the American College Test (ACT). Nine students were at least semifinalists in the National Merit competition–a benchmark honor of the top echelon of students nationally. One was a U.S. Presidential Scholar.

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;
  • membership in an active and mutually supportive community of more than 450 Scholars and alumni.

Baseline requirements for applicants this year were:

  • a minimum 3.5 grade-point average;
  • a ranking in the top 5 percent of their graduating class;
  • a minimum score of 1300 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.

For more information:

Flinn Scholar names, bios | Distinguished educators list