Tanner Jones couldn’t help but check his e-mail every 5 minutes last Friday.
April 20 was the day the Alta senior was told he would receive a note indicating if he’d been selected as a 2012 Coca-Cola Scholar. The prize: a $20,000 scholarship.
The message he was waiting for pinged his in-box right before he arrived at the Hawks’ Friday baseball game — and it was worthy of a smile. Indeed, Jones had been selected as one of 50 students in the U.S. to receive the prestigious award.
Celebration of the good news, of course, included ice-cold Cokes.
Jones, an Alta High student body officer, was one of two Canyons students who had been named a finalist in the 24th annual scholarship program. Hillcrest senior Nikos Liodakis joined Jones on the list of 253 students nationwide who were being considered for the top awards. Only two other Utah students were named finalists.
The finalists receive a $10,000 scholarship and compete to become one of the 50 students to receive the $20,000 scholarships. The final stages of the competition occur at an all-expenses-paid trip to Coca-Cola’s Georgia headquarters. There, the finalists are interviewed by Coca-Cola executives and participate in a service project.
They also are the guests of honor at the Coca-Cola Scholars Banquet, which this year featured an onstage question-and-answer session with Coca-Cola Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent and Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman.
Jones, who at 18 already owns and operates a dozen vending machines throughout Salt Lake and Davis counties, said the executives who interviewed him asked about his experiences with the Boys Scouts of America, including his efforts to become an Eagle Scout, and the initiatives Alta’s student leaders launched to unify the school and enhance the school’s reputation in the community.
Jones plans to defer his scholarship for two years while he completes a mission in Mendoza, Argentina for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Upon his return, he will attend Brigham Young University.