Seamus Flannery '23 Named a Mitchell Scholarship Finalist
The physics major was one of only 20 finalists for the Mitchell Scholarship, a fellowship for graduate study in Ireland/Northern Ireland. He is believed to be the first finalist from Haverford since our last winner in 2005.
“That’s Penn Engineering, for the record,” Flannery deadpans. “I’d taken flight lessons, and I was really committed to this idea … in part, I thought it would be a really cool job, but I also knew the skills that I would learn from something like that would always be useful in a job market. It felt like a ‘shoot for the stars, but can’t really miss,’ you know?”
After two summers of working in astronomy and physics, Flannery found that though he had “a reasonably good time” in physics class, it wasn’t what he wanted to spend the rest of life doing. Luckily, he found a new love that also incorporated his physics background: environmentalism.
“I got really invested in the idea of community organizing as a source for the most powerful environmentalism– kind of like building the community around you as a way to actually create that better world instead of focusing on these bigger ideas, like banning fossil fuels– which, you know, I’d love to do, but aren’t achievable in the current political climate.”
Flannery put these interests into his role as a Co-Head for the Committee for Environmental Responsibility. One of his accomplishments was reviving Haverford’s bike share and making it a more institutionalized resource for students. That led him to look into environmental science graduate programs.
So, what incentivized him to apply for the Mitchell and study in Ireland?
“I am incredibly Irish,” Flannery says. That, combined with the fact that he had not been able to study abroad due to Covid, fueled his decision to go abroad after graduation. “Ireland is a really interesting place to work in sustainability on account of greater exposure to climate change, but also a lot of funding and not a lot of obvious progress,” he adds.
Haverford students have multiple fellowships to choose from when it comes to post-grad abroad experiences, such as the Fulbright and Watson fellowships. “I realized that the one I really, for lack of a better word, ‘vibed’ with the most was the Mitchell. It was the application I was excited to write about,” says Flannery.
Flannery ultimately made it into the last round of the application process, becoming one of only 20 finalists for the fellowship. Though disappointed he was not selected for a scholarship, he notes that the process itself was a valuable learning experience.
“This was the process that helped me write down why I wanted to do [environmental work] and figure that out within my own head. I hadn’t really had the chance to wrap my head around those changes in my own views until I started this application process. I feel like I definitely learned a lot about myself in terms of what I want out of life.”
He also notes that the process helped him improve his interviewing and writing skills, especially through the CCPA. “Jason Chan helped me out so much in terms of writing ability,” Flannery said of CCPA’s Director of Fellowships. “Oh man, his essay edits are works of art.”
After all his hard work, Flannery looks back on the application process positively. “It was a bonding experience because people had really cheered me on through this,” he says. “And I am proud of how far I got. I proudly list [that I was a finalist] under my Haverford line on my resume.”
Flannery graduated this May with a degree in physics, and is looking forward to attending the University of Edinburgh in the fall. There, he will continue to follow his interests in engineering and sustainability as he pursues a master’s degree in sustainable energy systems– ultimately proving that when you shoot for the stars, you really can’t miss.