Sean Noel Bryant (1975–1996)
Leadership for the Common Good
Sean Bryant was a complicated person, full of paradoxes. He defied categorization. His passions ranged from cycling to politics, computer science to poetry. He was neither liberal, conservative, nor moderate; he insisted on analyzing each issue separately within its own context. Yet, he achieved consistency by rooting his opinions and actions in a set of values that emphasized integrity, commitment, and persistent effort. These values crystallized with his views on the function of leadership in government. Leadership, for Sean, was the ability to organize people for the common good, to achieve more together than the group’s composite individuals would be able to accomplish by themselves. Government is the vehicle for promoting the welfare of all through social organization. This is a simple idea that has been around since the Enlightenment, of course, but we as a culture seem to lack the commitment and persistent effort it takes if we are to realize the dream.
Sean’s family and friends have decided to memorialize him in a way that, hopefully, will go beyond extending his memory. We wish to extend the living part of Sean by finding ways to put his values into action. We have begun by establishing an award carrying Sean’s name and entitle Leadership for the Common Good. The memorial fund to which many of you contributed at his death will be used to fund the award. The award will be granted annually to the student who has best demonstrated the ability to organize people and achieve more by working together than the individuals would be able to accomplish separately. This is leadership; it is fundamental for effective government. The award is intended to celebrate who Sean was by working toward his dreams for our future.
— The Family and Friends of Sean Bryant
In 2000, Stephen Bryant and Sallie Bryant established a memorial scholarship honoring the life of Sean Bryant, a member of the Class of 1997. The scholarship will be awarded on a merit basis to a rising fourth-year student enrolled in the University of Virginia who has demonstrated a wide array of intellectual interests and pursuits and compiled a record of significant leadership in service to the University community. Most important, the scholarship recipient will have shown an unshakeable commitment to speaking for, and representing those whose voice is often left unheard.
The award for the 2022–23 academic year will be $4,500.