After months of hard work preparing a portfolio, much waiting and two rounds of interviews, Anisa Mughal was astounded to hear her name called as the 2012 General Sterling Scholar for the Wasatch Front region.
"I'm completely overwhelmed," she told the Deseret News after the awards ceremony last March. "I wasn't expecting the best."
Leaving with the prestige of her award and more than $4,000 in scholarships, Mughal, now a graduate of Skyline High School, has gone on to the University of Pittsburg to study in its pre-med program.
On Tuesday, the process will begin again for more than 800 high school students as judges gather at Ben Lomond High School in Ogden, Copper Hills High School in West Jordan and Timpview High School in Provo to consider which of this year's Sterling Scholar nominees will proceed to the finals competition and ultimately be named among the Sterling Scholars of 2013.
Now in its 52nd year, the Sterling Scholar program continues to recognize academic excellence among seniors in Utah's public school system. Students are judged based on scholarship, leadership and service. The program began under former Deseret News education editor Lavor K. Chaffin, who envisioned a program that would raise the standard of scholastic excellence. He encouraged the Deseret News to lend both its personnel and financial resources to further the program. Deseret Management Corp., the parent company of both the Deseret News and KSL Broadcast Group, continues to support this philosophy. The charitable giving arm of DMC, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation, provides the funding for the scholarships.
The Sterling Scholar program is independently implemented in five regions throughout the state. Only the Wasatch Front region is directly administered by the Deseret News and KSL Broadcast Group. Today's special section contains the group photographs of nominees from high schools within the Wasatch Front region. Students from each high school are nominated in one of 13 categories — English, mathematics, social science, science, foreign language, computer technology, skilled and technical sciences education, family and consumer sciences, business and marketing, speech/drama, visual arts, music, and dance. One Sterling Scholar is named for each category as well as one General (overall) Sterling Scholar.
Tuesday's semifinal competition will whittle down more than 800 nominees to 195 semifinalists to, finally, the 13 regional winners to be recognized at a special Academy Awards-type program March 13 at Cottonwood High School.
Two special awards will also be presented — the Philo T. Farnsworth Excellence in Education/Governor's Award and the Douglas F. Bates Community Service Award. A member of Gov. Gary Herbert's staff will present the Farnsworth/Governor's Award in recognition of outstanding scholarship in a technical field. The Douglas F. Bates Community Service Award is named for the late Douglas F. Bates, longtime administrator for the Utah State Office of Education.
At the conclusion of this year's program, all candidates will have participated in one the country's most prestigious awards programs for high school students. The 2013 participants can proudly take their place in the Deseret News and KSL Broadcast Group Sterling Scholar community and hopefully continue to pursue great achievements in scholarship, leadership and service.