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Sterling Scholars part 1



Mick Hagen

Provo High School

Parents: Dave and Annabella Hagen


"I've never worked harder, been so determined, focused or committed to a cause, than I was last summer. Many nights I would stay up all night with Red Bull energy drinks, cold showers and jogs around my kitchen table. I couldn't go to bed. I had too much work to do, too many pages to design and too many graphics to create. I had work to do and I had to make sacrifices.

"While most teenagers were having fun, I was staring attentively into the screen of my computer, connecting pages, links and codes. I roasted unneeded tags, program bugs and broken links, while neighborhood kids roasted marshmallows and their math notes. While people across the nation celebrated the Fourth of July with fireworks in the streets and in the skies, I launched a different type of fireworks. I launched Macromedia Fireworks MX, a software used for graphics and Web developing. I spent hundred of hours immersed in lands where the only languages spoken were Javascript, html and perl. I was on a different planet, a different world and in a different realm. I was in a world where only two things existed, Mick Hagen and his computer.

"It was a summer I shall never forget. I wanted the school Web site to look beautiful, and indeed it does. The failed attempts and inadequacies that I possess in Web design made me stronger and hungrier. In the end, the perseverance and discipline paid off. I learned that, like anything in life, if someone's determination to succeed is strong enough, failure will never overtake him. There are no limits.

"From a young age, I have never been afraid to fail. Computers don't scare me. I'm not afraid to explore a computer, through the operating system or the hardware, even with the risk of it crashing. The education I would gain is easily worth the gamble." I love mapping of new territory and traveling the roads less taken. I love to discover, to find, to learn, and mistakes are part of the process.

"Like a hit in the game of Battleship. . . . CRASH! The computer dies. The boat sinks. But even in a crash, there are always treasures to be found and lessons to be learned. A ship is safe in the harbor, but that's not what ships were built for. I'm not afraid to fail. And when I do, I always learn from it.

"Computers are such an incredible tool for the past, the present, and the future. With just a few clicks on the Net, one can be visiting a land on the other side of the globe, the other side of the universe, the other side of heaven. Communication barriers have been shattered. Education has been intensified. Computers and the Internet have transformed the way we live. Everything nowadays revolves around computers, whether it be a job, a building, or a car. A vast knowledge and education in this field can give me an incredible edge in today's fast-paced economy. My life will be greatly enriched because of the demand for my skills and knowledge. The world will be so dependent on computers that people will be lost and confused. I will be able to act as a compass. Through experience and the use of my skills, my wisdom regarding computers will grow at an incredibly fast rate. Involvement in this category can only result in further involvement. This is a great opportunity for me to learn and grow."

SCHOLARSHIP: Ranks 12th out of 402. GPA is 3.967. 29 composite ACT.

AWARDS AND PROJECTS: AP Scholar award; Academic All-State candidate in basketball; National Honors Society; vice president of technology; Youth Crime Watch Webmaster; Computer Club Webmaster; Governor's Youth Council; Utah Valley Youth Council; Provo High School Webmaster; editor-in chief/founder of; president/founder of; captain of varsity basketball team; two-year captain of school chess team; United Way; Sub-for-Santa; food drives.


Jonathan McKean

Highland High School

Parents: William and Diane McKean

Salt Lake City

"One of the most enjoyable things for me is to create something original. Possessing absolutely no ability in physical construction, I have found writing to be an incredible way in which I can build something which is all my own, but which can also be easily shared with others. There is hardly a time when I am more complacent than when writing in a journal or playfully concocting a silly poem for my friends. Being able to express myself so readily through writing has been a great joy in my life.

"I love people and strongly value my relationships with them. In my quest to preserve old friendships while establishing new ones, I have found the expression of feelings through words to be the most intimate connection between individuals. Whether spoken or written, the use of the English language to express innermost thoughts and concerns can create incredible emotional bonds between friends.

"The repression of thoughts and feelings is not emotionally healthy. From personal experience, I have found that repressing concerns and refusing to address them can only result in greater distress. For me, the use of the English language through speech and writing holds the primary value of expression. By voicing my thoughts and opinions, I can relieve the emotional pressure bottled up by a cork of an attitude. With this promise of emotional sanctity, English provides a bright and clear horizon in my future.

"English provides a great deal of enjoyment for me. Reading has always been an enriching experience, even when assigned by a teacher over the weekend. From my experience I have found that a good book can be just as entertaining and distracting as any video game. Writing, for me, is just plain fun. I love putting my thoughts and feelings on paper, at times not knowing what my feelings are until I read them. Whether for education, entertainment, expression, or simply to amuse a friend, reading and writing have been and will continue to be activities which make life much more enjoyable."

SCHOLARSHIP: Ranks sixth out of 462. Current and overall GPA is 3.996. 34 composite ACT.

AWARDS AND PROJECTS: National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Award in Writing; Utah Boys State; National Honor Society; Boy Scouts of America; student body secretary; Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge runner-up; literary magazine staff; Utah Governor's Honors Academy. Participant; Utah Association of Student Councils; University of Utah Leadership Conference; score of 5 in AP English language class.


Morgan Dennis

Alta High School

Parents: Larry and Patricia Dennis


"No real success comes without struggle, and no understanding comes without price. I remember one day working hours trying to find a formula that I thought must exist. I wasted pages and pages of scratch paper doing work that got me nowhere. After spending all that time, I was ready to just forget about it. But something within me wouldn't give up, and I gave the search all my powers until I finally discovered the solution.

"Math has taught me that only through that kind of dedication and strain does personal achievement come. The human mind has incredible capabilities that are greater than any computer, but its true potential can only be accessed with sacrifice and discipline.

"I've always been driven to succeed. I don't do it for the recognition, but for the self-fulfillment that comes from plain hard work. It is challenging because often people think I'm just naturally smart at subjects such as math and don't have to work for any achievement. Despite this I've tried to dedicate myself to constant self-improvement and not be satisfied with whatever natural abilities I may have.

"The more I try to better myself, the more I realize how much I love to work with others. These past three years in the math club I've spent many hours teaching students to work through various problems. We've done everything from proving basic geometry theorem to counting with combinatorics, and it is amazing to watch their minds light up as they begin to understand the beauty behind math. The experiences have helped me put my own life and accomplishments in perspective. I've found the reward of helping others to learn and achieve is often better than when I myself succeed.

"For most people, doing any math outside of school is probably about as appealing as going to the dentist on vacation. But for me, the four weeks I spent last summer studying math at the University of Nebraska was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Because of my scores on the AMC and AIME national tests, I was invited, along with 180 other students from around the country, to attend the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program. We had daily classes studying subjects such as number theory, combinatorics and P-adic numbers. At first I struggled as I tried to understand concepts that seemed very foreign to me. I persisted, though, and as I took in all the information I could, I remembered why I liked math so much. The power that comes from understanding; this power has only deepened my continual desire to learn."

SCHOLARSHIP: Ranks first out of 776. Cumulative GPA is 4.0. 34 composite ACT.

AWARDS AND PROJECTS: National Honors Society; AP Scholar Award; National Security Agency silver prize winner; 2001 and 2002 USA Mathematical Olympiad; Academic Decathlon; Shop With a Cop; Eagle Scout; Close-Up Program participant; first place winner of the University of Utah Calculus Challenge in 2002; piano instructor.


Parker Richards Hill

Highland High School

Parents: David and Shauna Hill

Salt Lake City

"I truly enjoy personal interaction with people. I love being able to relate to individuals and to hopefully have a positive impact on them. I like to meet and get to know new people, as well as help old friends through hard times in their lives. To me, being a catalyst for friendship and mutual respect is the most rewarding service I feel that I can do.

"This is why social studies is so important to me. All of my experiences in this field have been rewarding because they have given me the opportunity to meet new people, improve my interpersonal skills and overcome my shyness. At the state Legislature, I was constantly being introduced to new people and working with people whom I knew nothing about. Freedom Foundation, Boys State and Governor's Honors Academy also helped me improve the manner in which I interact with people. I credit these experiences with helping me develop the ability to communicate effectively and work successfully with people."

"My most challenging and truly life-changing experience was Unitown. Unitown is a three-day retreat focused on building intercultural bonds and overcoming prejudice. This was more difficult than I had anticipated. The three days I spent at this camp were the three most mentally draining and emotionally grueling days of my life. Day after day, I was challenged to view life from perspectives other than my own and analyze how my environment has biased me, even when that bias is not exposed. I learned infinitely more about the intricacies of society in this single experience than any other and I gained a deep understanding of these complex issues.

"With my continued involvement in this category of study my life with be enriched. My first-hand study of politics has confirmed my desire to be an active citizen of democracy. Likewise, my other social studies activities have helped me narrow my career path to occupations where I would be able to work with others, helping them improve their situations and solve their problems on an individual level. Continued involvement with social studies on the academic level will also help me expand my view of the world and understand more fully the problems that affect me, and how they have been dealt with historically. I believe that if I continue to study different cultures and the historical backgrounds of their values and beliefs, I will be more respectful of cultural differences and hopefully be better able to facilitate mutual understanding between diverse peoples."

SCHOLARSHIP: Ranks first out of 462. GPA is 4.0. 32 composite ACT.

AWARDS AND PROJECTS: Boys State; Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge; Governor's Honors Academy; Anytown Utah; National Honors Society; Air Force top science award; Harvard Book Award; National Merit Scholar; student body president; Principal's Leadership Award; Mae Carden Memorial Award; Eagle Scout; Sub for Santa; Key Club.


Rebecca Parker

Kearns High School

Parents: David and Janine Parker


"Science pervades almost every aspect of my life. My parents are both very supportive of and interested in science, and they have taught me a great deal about it. I've always received birthday presents such as microscopes and crystal-growing kits. My room is full of old science books that I have collected. I even repeat class experiments at home to demonstrate them to my three little brothers.

"I've been inspired to go into biology by both my uncle, a biology professor, and my grandfather. Three years ago, my grandfather had a terrible stroke which has left him completely paralyzed and unable to communicate. He was a very prominent kidney doctor prior to his stroke, and I enjoyed talking to him about biology and medicine. I would very much love to be able to fix some of the problems caused by the neural system, and I intend to pursue a degree in neurobiology to that end.

"Biology provides a way for me to better myself and the world around me. I want to assist in curing common diseases and improving the environment, and biology has taken vast leaps in those fields in the past few years." I hope that by entering the field, I will be able to help solve the problems and answer questions of today.

"Spending the summer in the Olivera Lab was one of the most interesting and educational experiences of my high school education. Dr. Olivera interviewed me and decided I would make a suitable research assistant. I ended up spending about 30 hours per week engaged in an independent project, in which I used PCR and gel electrophoresis to analyze the length of the introns of different species of Conus snails in order to confirm their phylogenetic relationship. My summer convinced me that that field of biological research is not only worthwhile, but full of exciting things yet to be discovered which I hope to work on in the future."

SCHOLARSHIP: Ranks 30th out of 622. GPA is 3.927. 33 composite ACT.

AWARDS AND PROJECTS: National Honors Society; Granite District Community Outreach Program; Key Club; Angel Tree; School and Community Involvement Award; National Merit semifinalist; academic letter; President's Education Award for Outstanding Academics, 2000; 4.0 GPA/CPA 3 Years Cumulative Award, 2000; Constitutional Scholar Award; blood drive; Assistance League.