Danforth Scholar mixes people, politics, public service

From the 2004 presidential debate to the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama, political campaigns have been bookends for the college experience of Andrew J. Flick.

“My dad and I just happened to visit campus on the weekend WUSTL hosted the (2004) debate,” says Flick, who receives a bachelor’s degree May 15 in political science with a minor in Spanish. “CNN and MSNBC were broadcasting live, and there was all this hubbub. For a kid who likes politics, that was a big deal.”

Andrew J. Flick works with third-grader Teionn Higgins at Laclede Elementary in St. Louis. Flick has spent time once a week this year volunteering as a tutor at the school.

Flick was here in 2008 for the vice presidential debate, and, in January, joined a group of students who made the trip to Washington, D.C., for Obama’s inauguration.

“It reminded us of how special this moment is for all Americans, but especially so for those like myself who had worked on his behalf during the campaign,” Flick says. “To be in the thick of things, to be able to tell my kids that I witnessed such an historic event, was priceless.”

While his academic interests have revolved around politics and public policy, his passion, as always, remains focused on people and public service.

He has been active as president of Chimes Junior Honorary and as fund-raising chair of Sigma Chi Fraternity, where he helped raise $5,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Flick spent the summer of 2007 interning as a teaching assistant as part of a University of Massachusetts Urban Scholars Program. Last year, he helped launch a tutoring program that pairs WUSTL students with struggling readers at a local elementary school.

“We work one-on-one with the students, and they really like having us there,” he says. “It’s been a great program for everyone, and it looks like something that will carry on after I’m gone.”

Flick’s legacy may be community service, but he’s best known around campus for his people skills and for his ability to build relationships and motivate people.

College of Arts & Sciences

“One of the things that stands out for me most is what a good listener he is,” says Henry Biggs, Ph.D., associate dean in Arts & Sciences and director of undergraduate research. “He asks the questions of a curious mind, but then has the calm to take information patiently in. He’s as reliable as they come.”

Flick’s outreach work dates to his days as student body president at his hometown high school in Hamilton, Ohio. His mother and most of his extended family attended the same high school, and most still live in the area, an older industrial region with shuttered factories. Flick jokes that his mother raised him to leave town, to go out in the world and do great things.

“My mom’s always been a big believer in what I’d call laissez-faire child raising,” Flick says. “She set boundaries, but she’s always been very supportive of me. A lot of kids get pressured to go to law school or med school, but when I talk to my parents, they just ask me what it is that I want to do.”

Flick began taking swimming lessons at age 7 and stuck with it, swimming on his school teams and giving lessons to children. He arrived here thinking his swimming days were over, but friends encouraged him to try out for the WUSTL team.

“My coaches had a bet about how soon I’d quit, but I stuck with it until I studied abroad,” he says. “I kept coming back, not so much because I expected to become a great swimmer, but because the people were so amazing. The coaches are fantastic, and everyone supports each other. Athletics here is a really tight-knit group.”

Flick spent much of 2008 in Madrid, Spain, studying Spanish at the Universidad Carlos III and working as an intern at the U.S. Embassy. After graduation, he heads to Costa Rica for six weeks as a leader in a wilderness adventure program for high-school and elementary students. Then, he’s off to Washington, D.C., to look for work on Capitol Hill.

“I’m interested in a thousand things, and every day it’s something different, maybe law school, maybe a master’s in public policy or something like that,” he says. “Who knows? I’m taking it one day at a time now.”