At Super Bowl LVII, WilmU alumna Fabersha Flynt will be on the 50-yard line as one of four Pat Tillman Scholars honorary team captains participating in the coin toss.
The Tillman Scholarship honors Cpl. Patrick Daniel Tillman Jr., a record-setting safety for the Arizona Cardinals who turned down a three-year, multi-million-dollar deal with the Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army after 9/11. He was killed in action by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. Tillman’s family created the Pat Tillman Foundation, which, according to its website, “identifies remarkable military service members, veterans and spouses, empowering them with academic scholarships, lifelong leadership development opportunities and a diverse, global community of high-performing mentors and peers.”
Flynt is one of those remarkable individuals. The executive director of Adult Education and Walton County Campus at Athens Technical College in Georgia, Flynt is the surviving spouse of Staff Sgt. Bryan A. Lewis, who was killed on March 13, 2006, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. After battling bouts of depression and anxiety, she created a scholarship in memory of her husband and founded an educational consulting firm that supports higher education institutions fostering learning environments that stress the importance of diversity and inclusion for marginalized students. Flynt earned her M.S. in Human Services at Wilmington University in 2018 and was awarded the Tillman Scholarship in 2021. She is pursuing a doctorate in Higher Education Administration at the University of Southern Mississippi. As stated on the Pat Tillman Foundation website, she “will use relevant scholarship and strategies to help give voice to the need for educational equality and its significance in providing ‘liberty and justice for all’ within higher education and beyond.”
“Each Tillman scholar is already distinguished long before they apply,” says Flynt. “Many scholars have dual or multiple terminal degrees, such as an M.D. and Ph.D. It’s an entire process that includes numerous essays, interviews and assignments that take a great deal of time, energy and focus, which those who apply have been clearly shown to possess. Scholars also meet annually to put their minds and resourceful creativity to help with or resolve some of the country’s biggest problems.”
Flynt says she’s excited to be an honorary team captain. “NFL Films came to my campus at the end of January to interview me on camera. From 8:30 a.m. until about 1 p.m., I was a celebrity. Then I had to go back to work.”
Flynt flew to Arizona three days before the Superbowl to join other scholars and participate in media day and other festivities. But amid the excitement, she thinks of her husband, knowing that without his sacrifice, she would not have had this opportunity.
She’ll carry something of his to the field, perhaps his Purple Heart, dog tags, or brigade coin. “I know Bryan will be with me,” she says.