Sterling Scholar Awards logo


Winners in the competition will be judged in the following manner:

  1. SCHOLARSHIP (20 Points). A nominee’s overall GPA, difficulty of class schedule, standardized test scores such as ACT and SAT, class ranking and similar scholarship items attained during high school will be used to establish points for Scholarship.
    • ACT score of 17 or above (if a student does not have a 17 or above they will not be considered for the Sterling Scholar program)
  2. CATEGORY SCHOLARSHIP (20 Points). Emphasis is placed on the nominee’s ability and talent in their specific category. While judges seek evidence of growth and service in all activities, the nominee’s talent and aptitude within their category will receive particular emphasis in this judging phase.
  3. LEADERSHIP (20 Points). The qualities of leadership in Utah public high schools can be measured in part by the responsibilities placed on a nominee by his/her teachers and fellow nominees. However, evidence of positive influence with fellow nominees also shall be considered an indication of leadership.
  4. COMMUNITY SERVICE/CITIZENSHIP (20 Points). Each Sterling Scholar nominee should exhibit a record of high standards of citizenship throughout his/her high school years. Service to school, community or other organizations will be considered. The nominee’s attitude toward the acceptance of responsibility in contribution roles, as well as seeking out service opportunities will be especially important.  Evidence of a long-term commitment to service will also receive particular attention.
  5. INTERVIEW (20 Points). During the interview judges will evaluate the nominee’s ability to answer questions pertaining to their category. Body language, technical knowledge, communication skills, and plans for continued education in the category will all be included in the interview point assessment.

Sterling Scholar programs in different areas of the state may vary due to the number of participating high schools.

Three judges will work in each category. In the Southwest region, judges will be selected from higher education faculties and  chosen by the Sterling Scholar Committee from among Utah’s business and professional communities.

Judges in each category work together but independently of all other judges. There are no provisions to allocate or distribute winners or runners-up among the schools. Judges are instructed to select the most qualified in each category without regard to school affiliation.

Judging will be based on the portfolios, exhibits, and personal interviews-no exceptions.

ALL DECISIONS OF THE JUDGES ARE FINAL.  Officials from the Deseret News, KSL Television, SEDC, or the Southwest Sterling Scholar Committee will not overrule any judges’ decision absent clear and convincing proof of fraud or abuse.  The Southwest Sterling Scholar Committee reserves the right to alter the judging of interviews and will notify nominees (schools) as may be appropriate.

Formula for Judging

Judges will rate scholars on the following scale:

  • Scholarship (20 points)
  • Category Scholarship (20 points)
  • Leadership (20 points)
  • Community Service/Citizenship (20 points)
  • Interview (20 points)

Please note that many categories are broad in description, therefore it is very unlikely that each Sterling Scholar nominee will have experience in all areas listed within these descriptions.

While it is suggested judges use this formula, it is recommended that it be done with reason, prudence and wisdom. Total scores should not be disclosed. Finalists should not be ranked but arranged in alphabetical order. The two runners-up should be listed in alphabetical order, not according to the formula scores or rank.

Nominees’ electronic portfolios will be available to the judges several days before the Sterling Scholar competition. It is recommended that judges first read the electronic portfolios and assign preliminary scores. Following the 10-minute interviews, score sheets should be restudied and new values assigned. In this respect, each judge should work independently, but the selection of finalists, runners-up or winners is made as a panel of judges. Judges must not allow ties, co-winners, or additional finalists.

Supplies will be made available to judges for implementing the above formula. All JUDGING SHEETS, SCORES and NOTES SHOULD NOT BE DISCLOSED TO ANYONE AT ANY TIME. All paperwork listing scores for individual scholars should be given to the usher assigned to your room. Judges worksheets will be destroyed. The results of the competition should remain confidential and sealed in an envelope, until the official announcements are made.