Beryl Jones will soon reap the rewards of the most lucrative and prestigious academic scholarship that can be awarded an Arizona high school senior.
The Flinn scholarship, which goes annually to the top 20 highest achieving students in the state, will dole out a financial package that includes full cost of tuition and fees and a stipend to cover room, board, books and supplies.
A three-week overseas seminar after her freshman year and two additional summers or semesters of international study are also included.
Following Jones' freshman year, she plans on completing her seminar in either Bulgaria or Hungary.
"After that, I'm not sure where I want to go abroad," she said.
Expenses to pay for personal mentoring by Flinn scholars, field trips, cultural events and opportunities to meet and greet business, government, education and arts leaders are also included in the scholarship.
Jones is the first PHS graduate to earn a Flinn scholarship since Nikki Hale in 1989.
For Hale, the scholarship changed her life.
"It was the best thing to ever happen to me," Hale said. "It provided me such great opportunities. I was able to go to school, enjoy what I was doing, and not worry about student loans.
"Everyone expected me to do great things and I tried to live up to their expectations."
Hale, a former editor of the Payson Roundup, co-owns an Oregon newspaper along with her husband. She was elated to learn another PHS student had won the award.
Jones plans to use the scholarship at the University of Arizona in Tucson where she will major in biochemistry, molecular biophysics and cellular biology.
"It'll be challenging, which makes it exciting for me," she said.
Her plans are to someday earn a master's degree and work in the medical field, possibly in cancer research.
Jones will graduate with the Class of 2006 as one of the high school's most accomplished students. She has maintained a 4.35 GPA while enrolled in advanced placement classes, including chemistry and biology. Jones is ranked first in her class and serves as president of the National Honor Society, Key Club and school band. She is also a member of the PHS Math Club and plays alto sax in both the school and jazz bands.
Last summer, Jones was one of 49 Arizona high school students chosen to spend three days each week at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center (AHSC) in Tucson learning about health careers in medicine, nursing and pharmacy.
Her performance during MEDCAMP impressed the staff enough to earn her an invitation for a paid position as a research technician this summer.
Jones said she will accept the invitation and will work at the AHSC before recruiting to college next fall.
At Payson High School, teachers and administrators have little doubt Jones will be successful in her summer employment and at the University of Arizona.
Principal Roy Sandoval said, "She's among the very finest students in the state."