Chandler residents in running for Flinn Scholarship - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler residents in running for Flinn Scholarship

January 4th, 2022 SanTan Sun News

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

Chandler was well represented in the competition for the prestigious Flinn Scholarship when the top candidates for 2022 were recently announced.

Nine students who live in Chandler qualified among 80 semifinalists and five advanced to the 39 finalists.

A Flinn Scholarship is valued at more than $120,000 and covers tuition, fees, housing and meals at one of the state’s three public universities. It also includes two stints studying abroad and connects scholars to a wide number of experts in a number of fields fo study.

About half of the finalists, 20 of the 39, will be awarded the Flinn Scholarship, which was started in 1986 by the Flinn Foundation.

The nine Chandler residents who earned semifinalist recognition are Anokh Ambadipudi of Basha High School; Loralei Cook of Arizona Connections Academy; Isaac Kan of Desert Vista High School; Kayla King of Chandler High School; Simone Cawthorne King of Chandler High School; Moira MacCatherine of Perry High School; Sebastian Pastrana of Chandler Preparatory Academy; Shruti Ramkuma of Hamilton High School; and Audrey Ann Wood of Seton Catholic High School.

Some of the semifinalists removed themselves from consideration because they were awarded other scholarships. The Flinn Scholarships are only good at Arizona’s three state universities.

The five from Chandler on the list include Basha High’s Ambadipudi; Arizona Connections’ Cook; Desert Vista’s Kan; Chandler High’s Kayla King; and Perry High’s MacCatherine.

The Flinn Foundation says it plans to announce its Class of 2022  scholars April.

Here’s some more information on some of the Chandler finalists:

Loralei Cook, Arizona Connections Academy: Loralei says she knows what the keys were to her becoming a Flinn finalist.

“I believe a combination of my involvement within the community and my personal character was key to becoming a finalist,” she wrote in an email. “Throughout high school, I advocated for a community-based approach to progress and innovation through open communication, organizing, and networking — something that I think helped me in the Flinn Scholarship process.”

Loralei is a member of numerous social and political advocacy groups (most recently named a U.S. Senate Youth Program Delegate for Arizona). She has assisted with social sciences research at Arizona State University and the Arizona Advocacy Foundation Representative of Student Council at her school.

Isaac Kan, Desert Vista High School: Isaac is a member of the Arizona Governor’s Youth Commission and sits on the Student Advisory Council for the Arizona Department of Education.

Isaac says he plans to become a biomedical engineer. He’s applied to attend Stanford and Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College. He has taken 11 advance placement courses. He plays piano and chess and is also building his own computer.

“I was super excited when I got the news, as can be expected,” he wrote. “I remember the first thing I did was tell my parents, then feeling both excited and a little scared of the interview process moving onwards.”

Kayla King, Chandler High School: King has a 4.79 grade point average. In addition to her studies, she is involved in theater, dance, piano, and likes to play golf.

She said her passion is theater, and she is helping to mentor children in that field. She is a candidate for an International Baccalaureate diploma.

“I volunteer whenever I can, and some of my favorite opportunities have been teen court (a jury of peers aimed at restorative justice) and Access News, where I record myself reading news or magazines for people who are visually impaired,” Kayla wrote.

Moira MacCatherine, Perry High School: The Perry High senior wants to be a nurse and is already gaining experience in that field. She volunteers at Banner Desert Medical Center and Shea Scottsdale Medical Center.

Moira is president of the National Honor Society and Perry Women in STEM club. She said she believes her leadership experience and service to the community helped her be selected at a Flinn finalist.

“As an aspiring nurse, I impact my community by assisting patients and visitors during their stays in the hospital,” Moira said. “It can be a very scary time for both the patient and the loved ones, so having a volunteer to help them or listen to their worries makes the process a little easier.”

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