Kyle Flynn, a 2010 graduate of the University Honors Program, earned his degree in Philosophy, with a minor in Economics and French. During his time at UNH, Kyle was involved with a number of student organizations, including the Atkins Investment Group and Inquiry Research Journal. Following graduation, Kyle earned his MS at the London School of Economics, before returning state-side to work as a strategy analyst in Chicago. Below, Kyle shares the triumphs and challenges of his time in the Honors Program.
Tell us a little bit about your background, Kyle?
My name is Kyle Flynn. I’m a New Hampshire native (Nashua), graduated Nashua High North in 2006 and started at UNH in the Fall Semester of 2006.
Why did you decide to attend UNH? What was your major?
Two words: Philosophy department. I had been in contact with several UNH philosophy students while I was in high school and the depth and breadth of their thinking—on literally any topic, no matter how random—was unlike anything I had ever encountered. They raved about the professors and the department, so that played a large role in choosing to go to UNH and major in Philosophy (I minored in Economics and French). It also helped that my brother and sister had attended the school and I was already familiar with the campus, culture, etc.
Were you involved with any sports, clubs, or extracurricular?
Aside from miscellaneous honor societies, I was involved with two extracurricular activities which had a formative impact on my career path: The Atkins Investment Group, a highly selective, student-run investment fund, where students analyzed / valued stocks and presented a buy/sell/hold recommendation to the wider group; and Inquiry Research Journal, which provided a literary outlet for students’ SURF-grant work. I was a student editor who worked with several authors to publish their research findings to a broad audience.
How did the Honors Program contribute to your experience?
Probably the most important manner in which the Honors Program contributed to my experience at the school was through raising the bar in terms of peer interaction. The level of conversation and motivation amongst my peers in Honors courses was closer to the level of discourse I experienced in graduate school than it was to your average non-Honors undergraduate peer group.
What is your most significant memory as an Honors student?
I’m going to be honest: the first thing that pops in my mind when I hear “UNH Honors Program” is first semester Freshman year, when I came .01 grade points away from losing my place in the program. Having had an amazing Honors course that semester, it was my first realization of how much grades can matter – I did everything I could to get good grades the following semester so that I could keep taking Honors courses.
Course-wise, I’d have to say that the Senior Honors Thesis is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about the program.
And what was your thesis about?
I wrote an Honors Thesis on the topic of “Rational Choice in Markets and Policy,” combining my interests in philosophy and economics. Rather than bore you with the content details (I’m sure you’re sitting on the edge of your seat!), I’ll say that course-wise, it was easily one of, if not the most, impactful experiences at UNH, and within the Honors Program, specifically. I worked closely with Prof. David Hiley in the Philosophy Department and Prof. Neil Niman in the Economics Department over the course of a year, gaining and refining a variety of skills, from in-depth research on a topic I knew little about, to project management, to persuasive writing and communication. Had it not been for the skills I gained on that project, I would have been woefully under-prepared for graduate school.
What did you do after graduation?
Immediately following graduation, I attended graduate school at the London School of Economics, earning an MS in quantitative political economy in 2011. The London School of Economics has a completely different approach to education than UNH (or most US higher educations in general). Part of the reason I was able to make it through that experience was the breadth and intensity of different learning opportunities that were available to me in the Honors Program at UNH. Following that, I moved to Chicago, where I’ve been working as a strategy analyst at a digital advertising agency.
Is there any advice you would like to share with incoming, current, or graduating students?
In all honesty, you might not remember all of the specifics of the topics you studied in school. But taking courses at the Honors level, where more is expected of you and your peers are just as motivated and intellectually curious as you are, teaches you how to learn, which is well worth all those extra hours of study required to maintain your spot and excel in the program.