The flag of Guyana was designed by a college student. In 1960, as that country was emerging from British colonial rule, Whitney Smith, then a 20-year-old undergraduate at Harvard, wrote to independence leader Cheddi Jagan and asked what flag the new country had chosen. Jagan told him no decision had been made and asked him for ideas. Smith designed a flag, got his mother to sew it, and sent it in, and Guyana adopted it, with some slight modifications.
Smith went on to create the journal Flag Bulletin; found the Flag Research Center; design flags for the Saudi Navy, Bonaire, and Aruba; organize the First International Congress of Vexillology (and coin that term); help to found the North American Vexillological Association and the Flag Heritage Association; and write The Flag Book of the United States, Flag Lore of All Nations, and more than 250 flag histories for the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
“I’m a monomaniac, that’s clear,” he told People magazine. “But I’m more fortunate than most people because I have something that infuses my whole life. I relate flags to everything.”