Eight East Valley residents are among 20 prospective Arizona high school seniors who have earned Flinn Scholarships for their distinguished academic and extracurricular achievements.
That award entitles them to $120,000 in scholarships to any of the three Arizona universities and will cover tuition, room and board an other expenses for four years; get them at least two study sessions abroad, including a three-week visit to China in their freshman year; and put them in contact with some of the leading minds in science and culture around the world.
It also puts them in an elite class of about 650 others who have won Flinn Scholarships since the program began 34 years ago.
Three scholars live in Mesa, two each in Tempe and Gilbert and one in Chandler. Broken down by school districts, however, Chandler Unified has two scholars since one lives in Gilbert; Gilbert Public Schools has one; Tempe Union High School District fielded three, one of whom lives in Ahwatukee and attends Mountain Pointe High; and Mesa Public Schools, three.
Among the Mesa scholars is Jordan Harb of Mountain View High School, executive director of the March for Our Lives movement in Arizona and national field strategist for the organization.
March for Our Lives – in which two other Flinn Scholars are active – arose after the Valentine’s Day slaughter of 17 people, including 14 students, at a Parkland, Florida, high school last year.
The other two are Amanda Schuerman of Gilbert, a senior at Gilbert Classic Academy, and Anna Lee Iverson, a Chandler High senior.
The 20 Flinn Scholars have achieved at least a 3.5 grade-point average, a top-5 percent class rank and a score of at least 1340 on the SAT or 29 on the ACT, and demonstrates exceptional leadership in extracurricular activities. They were chosen from a record-high number of 894 applicants.
“Each Flinn Scholar we meet is unique, but these students have something in common besides the capacity to excel in the classroom,” said Tammy McLeod, Flinn Foundation president and CEO. “They have deep dedication to their schools, communities, the future of Arizona and the world.”
Flinn program director Anne Lassen added: “The academic accomplishments, extracurricular involvement and dedication to service this group has demonstrated are remarkable, and we have high hopes for their future contributions.”
Here’s a look at the scholars:
AMANDA ABDELSAMAD, Corona del Sol High School, Tempe.
Described as “a well-spoken, positive, and kind young woman with an unmatched work ethic and drive,” Amanda credits her parents for her work ethic and their reminder that nothing in life is free.
She holds down a full time job in addition to being active in the school debate team and a volunteer at Dignity Chandler Regional Medical Center.
JORDAN HARB, Mountain View High.
“Jordan has shown the capacity to harness the passion and courage of young people to address problems,” the Flinn Foundation said. “As a fierce advocate for social justice, he has organized civil disobedience, statewide voter registration efforts, and has drafted and helped to pass policy on the local and state level. He hopes to continue to empower other youth as he begins his college career.”
Besides his March for Our Lives involvement, he has been a model officer in the Model United Nations program and placed first in the DECA state competition.
ANNA LEE IVERSON, Chandler High School.
Called “a leader in the classroom and on the field” whose “dedication to soccer and student council has taught her life lessons about overcoming defeat,” Anna Lee has been a teen nurse for Hospice of the Valley, a National Honor Society member, a life guard and involved in both theater and choir.
KATIE PASCAVIS, Basha High School.
A Gilbert resident, Katie “strives to make the most of the opportunities she has been given by helping others,” the foundation said.
She teaches younger students as a member of the National 4H Congress but also has been heavily involved in STEM activities. She has earned an honorable mention in the National Computing Wimen in Technology competition, plays clarinet for the school band, is Basha High’s chief science officer, active in two organizations that celebrate women in technology and is a National AP and Project Lead the Way Scholar.
JASON BAUTISTA PEJAY, Tempe High School.
“Inspired by his parents’ sacrifices and resolve, Jason made an early commitment to always strive for excellence,” the foundation said. “That commitment is evident in his academic achievements, service as a youth ambassador in China, and dedication to his school’s mariachi band.”
NATHANIEL ROSS, Mesa High School.
Nathaniel is planning to pursue a career as a hematologist. He has always been interested in medicine and hopes to find a cure for rare disease related to the immune system, “Nathaniel is a tap dancer, taught himself the guitar, ukulele, and banjo, and has more than 400 community service hours during high school,” the foundation said.
He is captain of the school’s Academic Decathlon, Class of 2019 valedictorian, vice president of its National Honor Society chapter, and wrote children’s book to fund eosinophilic disease research. He also is a bronze medalist in the Arizona State Science & Engineering Fair, a member of the TGen Bioscience Leadership Academy, and AP Scholar with Distinction and the Mesa Student Citizen of the Year.AMANDA SCHUERMAN, Gilbert Classical Academy High School.
Amanda “has led numerous initiatives to promote youth empowerment and civic engagement, including a statewide leadership summit,” according to the foundation, and is an active member of the school debate team.
LIAM WILSON, Westwood High School.
“Liam appreciates computer science most for its wide relevance and finds its application to the healthcare sector particularly interesting,” the foundation said, noting he wants to develop ways to better utilize electronic health record data outside of research” and is an Academic Decathlete.
He has coauthored a scientific paper for BMC Medical Genomics, praised for outstanding use of statistics by American Statistical Association, placed third in the Arizona Academic Decathlon and has coordinated the PLUS Middle School Math Competition.