Letter from a Flinn

October 10, 2012

By hammersmith

Scholar Jeannie Wilkening reassures us that radioactive spiders aren’t necessary to become a Flinn.  


Dear Flinn Applicants,



My name is Jeannie Wilkening and I am a freshman Flinn Scholar majoring in Chemical Engineering. Just one year ago, I never would have imagined myself writing that sentence.  For a number of reasons, I was convinced that the Flinn was not for me. My only real motivation for even finishing the application was just to make my parents stop bothering me about it. Since you are all undoubtedly intelligent people, I am sure that you can tell things have changed since I submitted that application.

Coming from a high school without many Flinns, I was sure that Flinn Scholars were all mythical super humans who were pretty much the closest thing to a real world Justice League.  Feeling that I was more ordinary than extraordinary, I didn’t think I stood a chance. After actually meeting Flinn Scholars, however, I can tell you that my original idea is only partially true. Yes, all the Flinn Scholars I have met are awesome people who do incredible things. They are, however, still human. All Flinns have awkward moments, make mistakes, and possess their fair share of faults. So if you are still looking for that radioactive spider to give you an edge in the application process, you can stop. We aren’t perfect. We aren’t good at everything. And we definitely would not be able to pull off all that spandex. Don’t worry about not having some fantastical achievement on your application. Just let them get to know the real you.

The other main reason that I discounted the Flinn initially was that I was sure I did not want to stay in Arizona. I knew I wanted research experiences, access to faculty, and a challenging and stimulating academic environment. I thought the only way I could get that was to go out of state. As I went through the application process, however, I learned more about both myself and the opportunities available to me in Arizona. I could not be happier with my choice to stay. After only being on campus for six weeks, I have already discussed environmental issues with award-winning faculty, analyzed trace contaminants in water samples in a research lab I work in, and met countless other students who share my passion for learning. I have truly found everything I wanted and more right here in Arizona. 

For me, the Flinn application process was really about discovering more about myself, the Flinn community, and Arizona as a whole. I know the same will be true for you. Even if you aren’t sure the Flinn is right for you, I encourage you to finish the application.  Write the essays. Fill out the forms. Think about what you really want from your college experience and where you can find that. You might not change your mind, or you may be like me and realize what an incredible opportunity the Flinn Scholar program is. Either way, just do it and give yourself the opportunity to find out.

Good luck,

Jeannie Wilkening