Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2014, 10:53 am

Geneseo to Annapolis: Karl Flynn named National Merit Scholarship finalist

Comment on this story

By Claudia Loucks,

Photo: Claudia Loucks / Correspondent
Geneseo High School principal Michael Haugse congratulates senior Karl Flynn for being named a National Merit Scholarship Finalist and for his appointment to the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.
Geneseo High School senior Karl Flynn was recently named a National Merit Scholarship finalist, and just days ago learned he has been appointed to the Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md.

The Geneseo teen qualified for the National Merit competition by taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) last year. Once scholars are selected this spring, the not-for-profit organization that works to honor the nation's scholastic champions and encourage academic excellence will grant some 8,400 scholarships totaling more than $36 million.

GHS guidance counselor Linda VanDerLeest said he may be the first student from the school to ever be appointed to the Naval Academy.

"When I was younger, I had always wanted to become a Marine," he said.

One of his cousins enlisted in 2004, he said, and he has several other friends who have enlisted or plan to enlist in either the Marine Corps or Navy, too.

He learned about the academy two years ago when his dad mentioned that one of his colleagues had attended.

"That piqued my interest," Mr. Flynn said, adding that it prompted him to research the academy online and talk with some alumni.

Applying for the academy was "somewhat similar to applying to a civilian institution," Mr. Flynn said, though a preliminary application must be submitted during the student's junior year of high school.

"If you pass this step, you must also receive a nomination from the president, vice president or a congressman; complete a fitness test," and more. He was nominated by U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline.

Mr. Flynn said between the academy's programs, military training and discipline, it will be "a challenge." Students have demanding class schedules; are required to participate in a sport; receive military training to become an officer, and more, but "the demanding environment of the Naval Academy is exactly what I want," he said.

Mr. Flynn said he plans to major in mechanical engineering at the academy. After graduation, he hopes "to get a service selection for Naval Special Warfare, particularly SEAL, or Marines," he said, "either aviation or ground."

In high school, Mr. Flynn has been involved in a variety of activities including musicals; robotics club; Illinois Honors All-State Choir; student council; scholastic bowl; fall play; tennis; cross country; track and wrestling. He also is an Eagle Scout.

"I'm just humbled to have been accepted. In the back of my mind, I've always thought I wouldn't be good enough, and that I wouldn't get in," he said. "Fortunately for me, I surprised myself."