Southern Utah University hosted the annual Sterling Scholar competition on April 1, 2021. One hundred and ninety-two students from nineteen high schools met on Southern Utah University’s campus to complete the final round of judging. The day’s events included competitive interviews followed by an Awards Program in the evening. Last year this competition and awards program was held virtually. Organizers made plans to hold the event in person this year with appropriate health and safety protocols in place.
This statewide academic competition recognizes the achievements of Utah’s high school seniors in the following fifteen categories: Agriculture Science, Business and Marketing, Computer Technology, Dance, English, Family and Consumer Sciences, General Scholarship, Mathematics, Music, Science, Social Science, Speech and Drama, Skilled and Technical Science Education, Visual Arts and World Languages.
Each of the 192 finalists were interviewed by judges and given time to explain their personal achievements and awards compiled in their digital portfolios. The winners were chosen based on their experience and skills in scholarship, leadership, and citizenship. A winner and two runners-up in each of the categories was chosen. These deserving scholars received a Sterling Scholar pin or charm along with a scholarship. Finalists from each high school also received a Sterling Scholar Certificate. The three judges in each category come from local communities, Dixie State University and Southern Utah University.
Many colleges and universities in Utah offer scholarships to both the winners and the runners-up to help these students in achieving their goals. Some of these scholarships include cash amounts up to $2500 or full tuition waivers. The support from the higher educational institutions in the state is much appreciated and utilized by Sterling Scholar recipients.
Since its inception, the program has expanded from its origins in Salt Lake City to include 5 region-wide competitions throughout the state that continue to publicly recognize outstanding seniors and encourage academic excellence. The program began in the early 1960’s, when Steve Hale, a Deseret News columnist; Lavor Chaffin, an education reporter at the Desert News; and Keith West, the Deseret News’ director of marketing realized that while their newspaper had been recognizing outstanding athletes for years, there was no mechanism in place to recognize outstanding scholars. Together with the Utah Board of Education, they developed the Sterling Scholars program.
We applaud all those who labor to make this program a reality each year. The parents and teachers of all nominees have dedicated untold hours to ensure the success of these students. We give a heartfelt thanks to all that have donated so much time and energy into providing this opportunity for the best and brightest in Utah.
Congratulations to all the nominees and we wish you the best in all your future endeavors.