"I didn't know what to say," said Flynn when the entourage of school officials, including the president and various economic and political science faculty, dropped by the classroom in Old Main and notified him of the honor. "All I could think of was, ?wow!' "
Even though Flynn had trouble finding the right words to say after receiving the scholarship news, others on The University of South Dakota campus were more than happy to speak on his behalf.
"This is a great honor, a great award and great recognition for Sean and for The University of South Dakota," Abbott stated in congratulating Flynn for being selected as USD's 11th Truman Scholar.
Members of the faculty also found it easy to discuss Flynn and his accomplishments as an undergraduate student at The University of South Dakota.
"I've been incredibly impressed with the caliber of the economics majors here at USD and Sean is certainly one of the superstars," noted Mike Allgrunn, assistant professor at the Beacom School of Business. "He takes every opportunity he has to learn more and he helps raise the bar for his fellow students.� He's not just studying to get a grade; he sees the big picture of what economics has to offer in describing the world and in how to make it better."
As the seventh Truman Scholar from The University of South Dakota in 10 years, Flynn will receive a $30,000 scholarship for graduate school. Additionally, Flynn will travel to Washington, DC for a Summer Institute for Truman Scholars as well as become involved with a fellows and mentorship program, which is in Washington in the summer of 2008.
The Truman Scholarship Foundation awards scholarships annually for college students to attend graduate school who want to pursue careers in government or public service.
"The Truman Scholarship had a very large impact on my academic and professional direction," admitted Ed Gerrish, a 2004 Truman scholar from USD who worked briefly for U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) and now is an associate for Freedom Consulting, LLC, a political consulting firm. "The Truman Foundation has enhanced their focus to both building a community of scholars and being a resource to its recipients."
As the institution's eighth Truman Scholar in 2002, Anna Kerner credits a persistent faculty and staff at USD with pointing her in the right direction and encouraging her to make the most of her academic success, including the pursuit of the Truman Foundation Scholarship.
"Throughout my undergraduate studies, I was challenged to think ?outside the box' and address issues globally," said Kerner, who is a second year student in the USD School of Law. "USD's strong academic tradition combined with the many opportunities it provided allowed me to apply those lessons outside the classroom and contributed greatly to my success as a Truman Scholar."
Even before he became a student at USD, Flynn saw the big picture of what he wanted to do and became proactive in his registration to become a Truman Scholar. So, shortly after graduating from high school in 2004 – right after registering for his first college classes at USD – Flynn submitted his Truman Scholarship application.
"Sean's leadership skills are proven and strong," explained Susan Hackemer, associate director of the honors program and coordinator of competitive scholarships at USD. "The manner in which students seek his inclusion further supports his leadership abilities. He has offered his skills and long-term commitment to several campus organizations and community public service activities."
In addition to his activities with the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, Flynn spends much of his time with USD's Political Science League having served as both president and vice president of the organization. The Political Science League organizes events such as forums and debates as well as promoting political engagement between campus and the community – ideal for a student who hopes to earn a Ph.D. in economics and, subsequently, work on Capitol Hill.
"Sean has a great attitude, he's hard working and he approaches his studies with an eye on the future," added David Carr, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics. "Sean had decided by the end of his sophomore year that he wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in economics after graduating from USD."
Flynn credits the programs, people and professors he's had at The University of South Dakota in contributing to his academic success as well as preparing him for a successful career beyond college.
"USD, in general, is an environment that I really like," said Flynn, the son of Sean and Deborah Flynn of Mitchell. "It's the perfect size for me. It's big enough where you can get involved in so many things, but it's small enough where you can get to know all of your professors and they, in turn, get a chance to know you."
In 1975, Congress established the Truman Scholarship Foundation as the federal memorial to Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States. To date, 2,545 Truman Scholars have been chosen since 1977. Sixty-five students from 56 colleges and universities throughout the United States were selected as 2007 Truman Scholars on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability, and likelihood of "making a difference."
The 2007 class of scholars will assemble at William Jewell College in Liberty, MO, on May 15 for a leadership development program. They will receive their awards in a special ceremony at the Truman Library, which is located in Independence, MO, on May 20.