The students come from every region in Utah, bringing their skills, talents and academic acumen to the Sterling Scholar Awards in search of recognition and college money.

Born from an idea in 1962, the program conceived by the Deseret News and KSL sought to bring recognition to students in 12 different fields of study, now since grown to 15. High school athletes had long received accolades and trophies, but here was a chance to level the playing field and provide more opportunities to recognize the achievements of students in both the arts and sciences.

This statewide academic competition features Agriculture Science, Business and Marketing, Computer Technology, Dance, English, Family and Consumer Sciences, World Languages, General Scholarship, Mathematics, Music, Science, Social Science, Speech and Drama, Skilled and Technical Science Education, and Visual Arts.

“In years past I have had the opportunity to judge the portfolios of the finalists in each category, selecting overall winners with my colleagues at KSL,” said Doug Wilks, executive editor of the Deseret News. “These students who compete in this competition are among the best in the nation. They speak multiple languages, do advanced mathematics, win national prizes in science and in some cases are working toward discoveries that will better mankind. To say they are remarkable is an understatement.”

Each of the finalists are judged on personal achievements and awards compiled in their portfolios as well as their interviews with the judges. The finalists are judged on scholarship, leadership and citizenship. 

In addition, the Gail Miller Community Service Award is given to one of the 168 Sterling Scholar finalists in recognition of outstanding community service. Miller, head of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies and the family’s foundation, is a sponsor of the program which recognizes the vital role community service plays in improving the world.

“They were readily responsive when we went to them and made a proposal,” Gary Porter, senior vice president of Deseret Management Corp., said of Miller’s Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation participation last year.

Miller was “enthusiastically supportive” and offered to sponsor the program for several years. “It wasn’t just a one-time commitment. It was a multiyear commitment,” Porter said. “They were strongly committed enough to do that.” 

Miller herself is an example to students of not just excelling and showcasing your talents, but in using those talents to better the community through volunteerism and philanthropy in many different areas.

Many Sterling Scholars have gone on to great success in business and in the arts, often returning to the stage during Sterling Scholar presentations to inspire each year’s class of participants.

Congratulations to all the Sterling Scholars. Here are the semifinalists from each region.