Every year the Flinn Foundation provides scholarships to 20 of Arizona’s best high school students, and this year half of those elite students have chosen to attend ASU.
The Flinn Foundation, founded in 1986, was focused on helping the state’s universities compete for top-notch students, said Brad Halvorsen, vice president of communications for the foundation.
“We wanted to help introduce Arizona’s top students to the outstanding programs and resources at Arizona’s universities,” Halvorsen said.
Flinn Scholars have the opportunity to choose any of Arizona’s schools, but in recent years, Halvorsen said it has been a relatively even split between ASU and UA.
This year’s scholars are Alexander Buckley, Delilah Cassidy, Vaishnavi Koka, Nisha Parasher, Aidan Schneider, Angela Siebrecht, Carly Snyder, Naomi Worob, Jimmy Xu and Jaylia Yan.
Scholarships are awarded based on a variety of criteria. According to the Flinn Foundation website, applicants are chosen for academic, extracurricular and community achievements.
This year’s group of Flinn scholars includes students involved in student government, sports teams, community efforts and a variety of other activities.
Vaishnavi Koka, a graduate of Mountain Pointe High School, will be studying electrical engineering at ASU.
Koka, who heard about the Flinn Foundation during her sophomore year at Mountain Pointe, was a badminton state champion and started a local chapter for a charity organization that helps children in India get food and an education.
She said the programs at Barrett, the Honors College and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering led her to choose ASU over the other in-state universities.
“I really liked their undergraduate research program and other initiatives,” she said.
Koka said a special overnight school visit Flinn scholars participated in helped her decision-making process.
“We went on a tour specific to our majors, and I was able to visit research labs and meet top professors in their field,” Koka said.
Carly Snyder, a recent graduate of University High School in Tucson, said it wasn’t a difficult decision to choose ASU over the other in-state universities.
“I always knew that if I was going in-state, it would be ASU,” Snyder said.
Snyder added that she was impressed with the resources provided by Barrett, the Honors College.
“I think that Barrett and really everything Dean (Mark) Jacobs is doing is amazing,” she said.
Snyder, whose high school had a long standing tradition of Flinn Scholars, first seriously considered applying for the scholarship when she attended an orientation during high school.
“I was excited and surprised to participate in the process,” she said.
Students applying for the Flinn Scholarship must submit an extensive application packet and then participate in rounds of interviews.
Koka said 75 students were selected to interview in the semifinal round of applications. The pool was then narrowed down and a second round of interviews was performed.
The 20 scholars were selected from that second round of interviews.
Halvorsen said that not all those selected always choose to attend in-state schools and in that instance, another finalist would be selected.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ICBeck21.