Neha Basu, Katelyn Cai, Yeju Srivastava

Neha Basu, Katelyn Cai, Yeju Srivastava

A Flinn Scholarship is one of the most prestigious awards that an Arizona high school senior can win and three seniors in Scottsdale schools are in the running to win one.

The scholarship – valued at more than $120,000 – covers tuition, fees, housing, and meals at one of Arizona’s three public universities and two separate opportunities to study abroad. 

Criteria include for competing for the scholarship include academic achievement, leadership and involvement, service to the community, ability to communicate, and personal characteristics. Each factor is an important part of the holistic picture. 

Over 1,100 of Arizona’s top seniors applied for the 2022 award and that field was recently winnowed to 39 finalists that include three seniors from Scottsdale schools. The 20 winners will be announced in the spring.

 “Anne Lassen, Flinn Foundation vice president of scholarship and education initiatives, called all the semifinalists and finalists “not only gifted academically but impressed our reviewers with their dedication to service and leadership in their schools and communities.

“The future is bright for all of these seniors, and equally so for the universities they will choose,” Lassen added. “We’re grateful that our university partners are offering generous awards to help those semifinalists who do not eventually become Flinn Scholars to stay here in Arizona.”

The three Scottsdale students include:

 

Neha Basu 

Neha Basu, a senior at BASIS Scottsdale, was the third writer of a doctoral level, peer-reviewed paper while interning in a material science lab at Arizona State University when she was 16. 

While STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is her first love, economics is her second. Her economics club at BASIS took second place last year in The National Economics Challenge hosted by Council for Economic Education. She is also a co-founder of a non-profit called “Invest in Her,” which teaches economic literacy to girls with the help of organizations like The Girl Scouts of America. 

Neha, 17, is interested in Arizona State University and wants to study solar power and batteries. She lauds ASU’s record on sustainability issues because “I want to do my part to make sure we have a more sustainable source of energy for future generation.” 

But bringing that economics background to her area of expertise would also help her bring her products to market. She doesn’t just want to make a better battery, she wants to ensure it betters the world though practical application.

Neha is also a competitive swimmer and can conquer the 100 meter butterfly in about a minute.

“Swimming for me is really just a way to relax after all that science and economics,” she said. “It’s a way to blend in with the water.”

 

Katelyn Cai

Katelyn Cai is captain of the BASIS Scottsdale’s speech and debate club, a member of the economics and finance club and vice president of the Governor’s Youth Commission, which works to promote civic engagement and promote awareness of things like domestic violence. 

Domestic violence is an important topic for Katelyn, whose mother grew up in China in an abusive family and brought her to the United States as a child to escape that.

Empowering others is a big part of what Katelyn is about. That is why she co-founded the “Invest in Her ” nonprofit. 

There aren’t more girls in economics because of a lack of role models, she said, noting that is slowly changing with leaders like U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, who also served as chairman of the Federal Reserve. 

Katelyn got interested in public affairs from listening to National Public Radio that her mother always had on since she was 8.  

Now, at 17, she has a 4.83 GPA and wants to study public policy and economics at Arizona State University. 

In her spare time Katelyn dances competitively and can be found training her rambunctious border collie Stella. 

“I love art and expressing myself, and dance has been great exercise,” she said.

 

Yeju Srivastava

 Yeju Srivastava has a black belt in Kung Fu, plays guitar (he really likes classical but plays several genres), produces his own music and studies the ancient Chinese boardgame Go.

Yeju, a 17-year-old senior at Desert Mountain High School has a 4.7 GPA, is the director of that school’s chapter of People for Urban and Rural Education, which brings educational opportunities to the economically less fortunate. 

He also saw a story on the news last summer about the difficulties blood banks were having because of the pandemic, so he got his friends together and put on their own blood bank, collecting over 35 pints of blood. 

With that in mind, it may be no surprise Yeju wants to study biology at the at the University of Arizona in preparation of medical school. What might be a bit of a shock, though, is that he also wants to combine that with a double major in economics.

One day he hopes to tackle one of the medical field’s biggest challenges, making healthcare affordable for everyone. 

His interest in medicine started when a glass cabinet fell on him when he was 14. The glass sliced deeply into his right hand and leg but “the doctor that sutured me just made me feel safe.”

Though already a black belt in Kung Fu, Yeju also wants to study boxing and put some of that theory he’s learned over the years into practice.