Chandler teen earns prestigious Flinn Scholarship SanTan Sun News

Chandler teen earns prestigious Flinn Scholarship

May 11th, 2021 STSN Staff
Chandler teen earns prestigious Flinn Scholarship
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By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

Ananya Lakhotia is ready to start her next chapter at Arizona State University, where she plans to major in biochemistry and justice studies beginning in fall.

That may seem an unusual combination but for the Arizona College Prep-Erie senior, the two disciplines perfectly blend together for her biggest passions: science and advocacy.

“I was always really big into activism and I wanted to be able to help the community around me,” Ananya said.

And she’s getting a big helping hand for her mission to make society equitable for vulnerable populations.

Ananya is one of 20 Arizona high school seniors to win a prestigious Flinn Scholarship this year. Two school districts – Tempe Union and Gilbert Public Schools – had two earners as did two individual schools – BASIS Ahwatukee and Gilbert Classical Academy.

The award covers all tuition, board and other expenses for four years at one of Arizona’s three state universities, provides for two tours for study abroad and a chance to meet some of the top leaders in virtually every segment of society, from business to academic to cultural.

Applicants are subjected to a rigorous vetting process that involves writing several essays and undergoing interviews. Only the students who have demonstrated the right amount of academic prowess and leadership skills are picked.

Ananya said she’s thrilled to receive the honor and looks forward to meeting new and former Flinn scholars in the near future.

“I would love to be part of a community where I could learn from them and talk to them,” the 17-year-old said.

Ananya said the Flinn scholarship has been on her radar for the last few years. As a freshman, she recalled seeing some older ACP-Erie students win the award and wondered if someday she could join that exclusive club.   

Ananya has described her academic career as one filled with ambition and striving for perfection.

From a young age, she focused intently on achieving each task that was put in front of her and always had her eyes set on the next accomplishment.

But she got to the point where she felt she was putting too much pressure on herself and that it was impacting her mental health.

She turned that around after realizing she was caught in a vicious cycle and needed to be more cognizant of how she was presenting herself to others.

Young people can become obsessed with pretending to be something they are not, Ananya said, and putting on a mask of perfection.

“We need to pay more attention to our mental health and our needs,” she said, “because if you put that mask on for long enough, you don’t really know who you are anymore.”

Mental health is now a topic that has become one of Ananya’s passions and she wrote about it in one of her essays for the Flinn scholarship.

She thinks her willingness to share personal experiences related to modern problems may have made her application stand out from so many others.

“I think Flinn really looked for that genuineness,” Ananya noted.

A highlight of Ananya’s academic career has been her involvement in her school’s speech and debate team. Over the last couple of years, she and her teammates have regularly won awards for their ability to argue clearly and persuasively about current events and issues.

Ananya said the debate team helped boost her confidence and sharpened her public speaking ability.

The extracurricular activity has additionally forced Ananya to stay updated on timely topics in the news and has expanded her understanding of socio-economic issues.

Ananya is now committed to using her knowledge to help others by advocating for better access to affordable healthcare and quality education.

There are still many inequities in the world that impact certain populations, she noted, and it’s up to the younger generations to try and make a difference.

Her ultimate goal is to get accepted into medical school and become an OB-GYN doctor, a role that would allow her to specialize in helping underserved women.

Ananya credits her parents with teaching her the value of a good education — an intangible gift that can’t be suddenly taken away once it is earned.

“You can lose your home, you can lose your job, you can lose your stability,” Ananya said. “But nobody can ever take away your education.”

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