Caroline Hyland in Nicaragua

Xavier Prep graduate Caroline Hyland is one of the 20 students who outshone nearly 900 Flinn Scholarship applicants. Her experiences have taken her to Ecuador, Haiti  Nicaragua.

How many people can say they’ve traveled to Haiti to help provide citizens with clean water? Or to Nicaragua to build a school garden, or taught algebra to kids in Ecuador? These may seem like fairly daunting tasks, but for Caroline Hyland, it was all in a day’s work.

Caroline, a recent graduate from Xavier Prep, has had quite a remarkable educational career, starting at All Saints’ Episcopal Day School.

Not only has she already received a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science from Rio Salado Community College, but she was also named a National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing state awardee and named to the Arizona All-Region Team for her participation in Mock Trial.

Caroline has one more thing to add to her list of accomplishments, as she was recently named a Flinn Scholarship winner at the end of the school year.

“I was shocked when I found out, and I honestly did not believe it when they first told me,” Caroline said.

The Flinn Scholarship is awarded to students who have “at least a 3.5 grade-point average, a top 5 percent class rank and a score of 1340 on the SAT or 29 on the ACT and demonstrate exceptional leadership in extracurricular activities.”

The application is extensive and requires biographical and family data, information about current studies, career and academic interests, extracurricular activities, honors and awards as well as three essays and two short answer questions, two teacher recommendations and a report from the academic counselor.

“Being awarded the Flinn was an extremely humbling experience,” Caroline said. “I met so many incredible peers going through the Flinn selection process, and it was inspiring to be able to spend time with all of them and get to know them.”

Before all the chaos of graduation, scholarships and choosing the University of Arizona Honors Program to further her college career, Caroline was participating in after-school activities and school trips that have taken her all over the world.

In elementary school, Caroline traveled to Haiti to celebrate the dedication of a new school building for which she and her classmates had raised funds. While there, Caroline’s teacher challenged them to find a new problem to tackle.

“She asked us to remember that no matter how much we have to celebrate and how much we have done, there is always more to do,” Caroline said.

The group found that the school’s water source, which was a small hole under tree roots where murky brown water leaked out, was in serious need of repair. They got to work and started raising money to provide the school with a cistern that provides clean water to students.

“This trip inspired me in more ways than I can begin to explain, and it set me on a path of international travel and service, which I immediately pursued at Xavier,” Caroline said.

After her freshman year, Caroline headed to Nicaragua to help build cement benches and prepare a sustainable garden for residents of a small town outside Managua. After that, she headed to Ecuador. Caroline participated in a minga, which is a community-oriented service project where members come together to work on a construction project for another member of the community.

While she was there, she was able to meet some of the younger children from the area.

“…one of the Xavier teachers traveling with us called me over to talk,” Caroline said. “She said a few boys asked her how to do their algebra homework, but the teacher could not figure out how to explain it to them.”

And with that, Caroline got her first teaching experience.

“At first, I was extremely nervous, and I thought that trying to explain math in Spanish was hopeless. Once I started, though, it was actually really fun, and it became increasingly easier the more I tried.”

Caroline will finish her summer vacation as an honors biology teaching assistant for Xavier. Then, a trip to San Diego and finally, the Flinn Scholar retreat in China.

Along with the retreat, the Flinn Scholarship also covers the full cost of tuition and fees, housing and meals, an additional study-abroad experience and internship opportunities.

“I think that there is a great deal of more important benefits to the scholarship as well. The most significant benefit is the community of Flinn scholars,” Caroline said. “Even as I was going through the application process, multiple scholars reached out to me… having that supportive network of both mentors and peers is extremely valuable.”

Caroline plans on dual-majoring in Computer Science and Bioinformatics with a Computer Science emphasis and would also like to minor in Spanish. Ultimately, she hopes to get a master’s degree and a PhD before pursuing a career in software development for biotechnology.

“I have always loved biology and during my time at Xavier, I fell in love with computer science. This career feels like the perfect way to blend those two passions,” Caroline said.

The Flinn Scholarship

  • The Flinn Foundation was established in 1965 by Arizona cardiologist Dr. Robert S. Flinn and his wife, Irene.
  • Their mission is to improve the quality of life in Arizona to benefit future generations.
  • This year, the scholarship program received 894 applications. Caroline is one of 20 to receive the award in Arizona.
  • The value of the scholarship, including tuition provided by the universities, exceeds $120,000.
  • Other benefits include:
  • Housing and meals.
  • Multiple study-abroad experiences.
  • Exposure to Arizona/global leaders in business, government, science and the arts.