Dr. Susan Donovan, the president of Bellarmine University personally presented a pair of students recently with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award and the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award in recognition of their service to their fellow students and the university. The awards rank among the highest honors accorded to Bellarmine students each year.
Shalonté Branham, a graduating senior with a double major in Political Science and Sociology, received the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award, while the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award went to Noah McDonell, a student enrolled in the university’s five-year MBA program with an Innovation Emphasis.
Branham, who plans to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces upon graduation, served as a Residence Life Academic Peer Advocate, helping her fellow students adjust to the challenges and demands of college life. “Shalonté is incredibly bright and engaging,” said Dr. Helen Grace Ryan, Bellarmine’s Vice President of Student Affairs. “She’s always ready to contribute to class discussion, and her writing is thoughtful and provocative, so it’s no surprise that she assists her peers on campus as a writing consultant.”
Ryan added that Branham is “a relentless advocate for her peers, particularly students of color. One of her professors commented that, while in attendance at many campus events, Shalonté’s contributions helped shift the perspectives of those in the room. She is a force … someone who wholeheartedly supports the people around her while also pushing them to do better. Her approach is filled with patience, humor and an embodied commitment to seeing the best in people. She represents the strength of character required for this award.”
McDonell, an Eagle Scout, “has an excellent record for service work,” Ryan noted. He started a literacy program called “Readers Make Leaders” and has helped more than 1,000 at-risk children through the project since 2014. He has participated in projects such as the Bellarmine Cinema Association Cathedral of the Assumption Bologna Alley Soup Kitchen. He served as vice president of Omicron Delta Kappa, vice president and treasurer of the Bellarmine Cinema Association, and a Peer Leader in the Better Together Interfaith Youth Core Team. “Noah has also worked while being a student at Bellarmine, gaining experience in marketing, digital and media projects and sales,” Ryan added.
Bellarmine began offering the Sullivan Awards in 2014 to two graduating seniors whose “nobility of character and dedication to service set them apart as examples to others.” Nominated for the awards by faculty, staff or peers, the recipients receive bronze medallions and certificates.