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Top Arizona high school seniors choose ASU

Alexander Buckley
May 19, 2014

Ten of Arizona’s highest-achieving high school seniors – half of this year’s crop of Flinn Scholars – have chosen to attend Arizona State University next fall.

They include a nationally competitive debater, the leader of an award-winning robotics team, Arizona’s Eagle Scout of the Year and the founder of a local chapter of a poverty-relief nonprofit for children.

The competitive, merit-based Flinn Scholarship, valued at more than $100,000, provides four years of tuition at one of Arizona’s three public universities, room and board, funding for international study and other benefits. Each award is provided through a partnership between the Flinn Foundation and the universities.

Last fall, 624 Arizona high school seniors applied for the 2014 scholarship, going through a rigorous process of essays, recommendations and interviews, and 20 were selected. Each will be mentored by a faculty member in the student’s field of study, and will network with Arizona’s business, academic, research and civic leaders through events and activities.

The 10 students who have chosen to attend ASU are a diverse group who come from communities across the state.

Alexander Buckley of Mesa is a leader for the Red Mountain High School award-winning robotics team and marching band, and was a prolific fundraiser for autism research. He sees engineering innovation as a means to safeguard the natural environment for the next generation.

Delilah Cassidy of Casa Grande is a four-sport varsity competitor and student body president at Casa Grande Union High School. She has been a youth sports coach in parks-and-rec athletics, a trumpet section leader in the band and was the high school mascot for four years.

Vaishnavi Koka of Phoenix founded a local chapter of a poverty-relief nonprofit serving children across the Indian subcontinent at Mountain Pointe High School. She also works as a software programmer and is the state champion in doubles and team badminton.

Nisha Parasher of Chandler has been the team captain for varsity volleyball, soccer and tennis, as well as the yearbook editor at Chandler Preparatory Academy. She feels her most important activity is service to the community through the projects she manages as president of Key Club.

Aidan Schneider of Flagstaff is a leader at Northland Preparatory Academy and is a winner or finalist in three national scholarship competitions. Named Arizona’s Eagle Scout of the Year, he is an advocate for the environment, and has led groups of teenagers through wilderness backpacking and scuba-diving expeditions.

Angela Siebrecht of Mohave Valley, captain of the speech and debate team at River Valley High School, is the state champion in policy debate, and placed third in state in impromptu speaking. A compelling writer about politics and social justice, she is a community health fair manager and public health activist.

Carly Snyder of Tucson is a varsity swimmer and senior class president at University High School. She guided creation of a new student government constitution, and as president of the student activities board, she founded an organization to encourage collaboration among student groups.

Naomi Worob of Prescott is a talented musician who is also president of Future Business Leaders of America and Amnesty International at Prescott High School. Her drive to recruit underrepresented students in business was spurred by a summer in India as a National Security Language Initiative Scholar.

Jimmy Xu of Chandler has achieved honors in many disciplines, winning first place in physics and astronomy at the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair and being named to the Governor’s Youth Commission. He was the fourth overall scorer in the state Academic Decathlon, leading Hamilton High School to a top-six finish for the third straight year.

Jaylia Yan of Mesa is a varsity speech and debater at Mountain View High School who has been president of Model United Nations and of the Mayor’s Youth Committee. She is also a talented flute player and has worked as a research assistant in ASU electrical engineering and physics.