PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Soon, students will close one door and open another by earning their high school diploma. In addition to that milestone, two A-plus students have earned something extra to help them in the journey ahead.
The Flinn Scholarship is a prestigious, merit-based award of $120,000 granted to 22 high school seniors in the state who have been accepted into an Arizona Public University.
Recipients say they don't know who's more proud.
"My parents were really supportive of education when I was little and they said work really hard and you can do whatever you want," Kyle Kline said.
"My mom couldn't believe it, she's like 'I don't have to pay for college?'" Lauren Paxton said. "But they're all excited and all my cousins go to ASU, so I'm really excited to be with them."
Graduating at the top of her class, Paxton says she's surprised by her selection, but nevertheless, she says challenging herself finally paid off.
"I wanted to be at the top of my class, but I never really thought it would happen, so that's also why it's surprising, but just by trying to take classes that I'm interested in, but that also challenged me," she said.
Challenge is also what motivated Kline to be an outstanding student. Aside from the scholarship, he's really looking forward to staying in state.
"Students have a hard time realizing that we're not just numbers and I think that going to an in-state university allows a lot of flexibility and takes a lot of the stress off, which gives a lot of flexibility to explore who you are as a person and as a student and really figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life," he said.