Flinn Scholar and Payson High School senior honor student Beryl Jones has honored former PHS chemistry teacher Jerome Lubetz as the educator who most influenced her education.
At a Flinn Scholar awards banquet May 15 at the Ritz Carlton in Phoenix, Jones presented Lubetz -- who resigned from teaching last year to take up a career as a firefighter -- with a plaque for encouraging her in her science studies.
"When asked to choose a teacher to honor, Mr. Lubetz was an easy choice," Jones said. "Not only did he share his passion for chemistry and make me excited to study biometric research, he challenged me on a daily basis and forced me to think on a whole new level."
Jones was a student in Lubetz's chemistry classes both as a sophomore and junior.
The former teacher lauded Jones as "one of the most intellectually gifted students I had the privilege to work with in 17 years of teaching.
"That, coupled with her outstanding work ethic and commitment to learning, makes her a truly unique individual."
All 20 members of the 21st Class of Flinn Scholars honored a teacher of their choice at the festivities that drew 160 family members, high school teachers and college officials.
Jones was named last spring as one of the 20 premier high school seniors, heavily recruited by colleges and universities around the nation, to study as a Flinn Scholar at an Arizona public university.
Jones plans to use the scholarship at the University of Arizona in Tucson where she will major in biochemistry, molecular biophysics and cellular biology.
Flinn scholarships are among the most lucrative seniors can receive.
In addition to paying full tuition for eight semesters, room, board, books and supplies, the scholarship includes a three-week seminar in Eastern Europe, at least one additional travel experience abroad, mentorship by university faculty members in the scholar's field of study, invitations to cultural events and opportunities to participate in university research programs.
Jones said she would take her three-week Eastern European seminar to either Bulgaria or Hungary.
At Payson High School, Jones maintained a 4.35 GPA while becoming a National Merit Commended Scholar finalist.
She also won student-of-the-year honors in biology, algebra, Spanish, geometry, English, world cultures and pre-calculus.
Jones has been a four-year member of the PHS band and jazz band, earned regional first chair alto honors, has been secretary and president of Key Club, is president of the National Honor Society, governor of Interact, secretary of SADD and is a freshman mentor.
Last summer, she was one of 49 Arizona high school students chosen to work at the University of Arizona Health Science Center in Tucson. This summer, she will return to MEDCAMP as a research technician. Her plans are to use the Flinn scholarship to earn a master's degree and work in the medical field, possibly in cancer research.