The valedictorian of Desert Vista High School’s Class of 2020 has earned a prestigious Flinn Scholarship.
The award means that senior Anya Chaudhry, the daughter of Shefali Bhimani and Yash Chaudhry of Ahwatukee, will be getting not only a full ride at the University of Arizona but will become part of a rare group of young Arizona scholars.
Fewer than two dozen high school seniors are chosen annually for the award, which was founded in 1986 and is funded by the Flinn Foundation, a private non-profit created by cardiologist Dr. Robert S. Flinn.
This year, 1,014 Arizona high school seniors applied and 19 were selected.
Anya and the other 18 awardees, who under the terms of the scholarship must attend one of the three state universities, will have their tuition, housing, meals and other expenses covered.
They will participate in a three-week summer seminar; will have a chance to study abroad for a time later in their university career; get personal mentoring from top faculty and exposure to Arizona and global leaders in business, government, science, and the arts; and be part of a community of about 650 current and former Flinn Scholars.
Anya said when she was notified of the honor, “I was so excited. I couldn’t believe it was happening and I was thrilled for the exciting opportunities that opened up to me.”
She plans to major in physiology and medical Sciences with a minor in entrepreneurship and/or studio art.
Those academic goals reflect Anya’s activities and accomplishments both on and off the Thunder campus.
“For now, I plan to pursue the pre-med track and possibly become a doctor in the future,” she said. “My experiences volunteering in a hospital and shadowing a doctor as well as a desire to provide better healthcare for my community has drawn me to this field.”
To qualify for a Flinn Scholarship, students must be a U.S. citizen and have lived in Arizona for at least two years. Generally, they have to had participated in extracurricular activities and shown an ability to lead at their high schools.
They must also maintain a 3.5 GPA, be among the top 5 percent of their graduating class and have a minimum score of 29 on the ACT and 1340 on the SAT.
With a 4.0 unweighted and 4.94 weighted GPA, the Desert Garden Montessori and Altadena Middle School alumna met that checklist.
Anya is the treasurer of the Desert Vista National Honor Society and a member of the Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society, a member of the Future Health Professionals and Science National Honor Society, a participant in the Science Olympiad and Art Club.
“All of my classes are honors/AP and I have had a total of several APs throughout high school,” she said, adding some also earned college dual credits.
Anya also provides peer tutoring to classmates and when she is not involved in school-based activities, has run two businesses.
To top it off, she added, “I spend a lot of time making art.”
Her former business, called Bad Turtle, was a T-shirt design company and she also has a card and envelope business called “ENVS Designs.”
She’s also used her artistic talents to help others.
Recently Anya helped her younger sister make angel paintings that will be sold to raise money for the Navajo nation’s fight against the coronavirus.
She’s particularly excited about the Flinn Scholarship Program’s study abroad.
“I love to paint and travel,” she said. “I will definitely make use of Flinn’s funded study abroad experiences.”
Of course, Anya is part of a generation of seniors whose final year in high school has been disrupted by the pandemic and school closures.
Asked how she will look back on the 2019-20 school year, she replied:
“I think we should look back at this time as a learning experience to be better prepared when another pandemic occurs. It spotlights inefficiencies in our healthcare system, so we should attempt to fix them in a way that would prevent this type of pandemic and lockdown from happening again.
“I also think it shows the incredibly interconnected world that we live in, and that something happening abroad has the potential to create a monumental effect at home.”