Eclectic and energetic, graduating Flinn Scholars set forth

May 11, 2011

By hammersmith

Sunday evening at its annual Recognition Dinner, the Flinn Scholars Program will honor 17 dedicated, diversely talented graduating seniors. Joining the graduates at the event, held at the Ritz-Carlton in Phoenix, will be the newest class of Flinn Scholars, along with family members and representatives of Arizona’s public universities and the broader community.

The latest additions to the Flinn Scholars’ 400-strong alumni community are beginning new roles in education, business, research, and the nonprofit sector. Quinney Fu will take the reins of the international health and education organization Imaginations Inc., while Jared Neufer is preparing for graduate school in mathematics. Arielle King will work with special-education students as a Teach For America fellow in Phoenix.

In the fall, Mark Jeng will start doctoral studies in immunology at the University of California at San Francisco. Ellen Chang has accepted a position as an actuarial analyst for Travelers Insurance in St. Paul, Minn., and Connor Mendenhall is bound for Ankara, Turkey on a Fulbright fellowship.

Several of the new alumni earned national acclaim for their academic and research prowess as undergraduates. Beryl Jones and Michael Mitchell both won the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the highest prize for undergraduate students in math, science, and engineering. In the Wall Street Journal‘s collegiate Biz Quiz competition, Sarah Trainor captained the University of Arizona’s team to a top-three finish. Cole Wirpel received a Circumnavigators Club Foundation Undergraduate Research Grant for a multinational study of the management of non-governmental organizations.

Two of the Scholars emerged as premier athletes during college. Bobby Cottam was captain of a national-champion collegiate fencing team, while Amy Stabler was twice a top finisher in the El Tour de Tucson cycling race and finished second in the XTERRA Off-Road Collegiate Nationals Triathlon. Both will continue their studies in the coming year, Cottam completing a master’s degree in transportation, Stabler pursing a master’s in geography.

Another pair of Scholars will spend the coming year in AmeriCorps fellowships, Margo Johnson assisting international refugees in Austin, Texas, and Clark Alves teaching in Tucson. Johnson then plans to pursue doctoral studies in cultural anthropology, while Alves will begin a master’s program in education.

Three other graduates are pursuing health-care careers. Efren Martinez has accepted a post as a registered nurse in the intensive-care unit of Mayo Clinic’s Scottsdale hospital. Juhyung Sun, after working for a year as tournament director for the international World Scholars Cup, will attend the UA College of Medicine in Tucson. Sam Wang will work for a year as a graphic designer and marketing specialist at UA before he, too, begins medical school.

“Both students and parents ask, from time to time, what a typical Flinn Scholar looks like,” said Michael Cochise Young, director of the Flinn Scholars Program. “This group of graduates illustrates how hard that question is to answer–except to say, they are consistently curious, risk-taking, committed, and insightful.”

“Arizona, and for that matter, the world, are fortunate to have these young adults taking their next steps,” Dr. Young said.