This LGBTQ Scholarship Is the First of Its Kind in the SEC

Food access, sustainability and conservation have become mainstream conversations worldwide. And while these issues are broad, too often, representation within these discussions is not, according to the University of Kentucky (UK), a Sullivan Foundation partner school.

To address the problem, the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment has launched the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Fund—the first of its kind in the Southeastern Conference. The fund was created with the intention of diversifying Kentucky agricultural and environmental industries.

The lack of diversity across agricultural and environmental leadership is compounding the immense challenges facing our planet. For rising leaders, this dilemma is all too real.

Related: Rollins College alumnus “Papa Viva” creates safe haven for families affected by AIDS

“As a minority in the state of Kentucky, I’ve experienced different encounters based upon my gender, race and sexuality,” said Iyahna Wilson, an agricultural education student at UK. “As an openly lesbian Black woman, I have participated in protests, held spaces for individuals like myself, and reflected on the experiences that I have encountered. At the University of Kentucky, as a minority it can be hard to express yourself if the spaces aren’t there for you.”

this photo shows Iyahna Wilson, a queer student who is excited about the new LGBTQ scholarship being offered at University of Kentucky

Iyahna Wilson

Understanding these student experiences, University of Kentucky staff and faculty are taking decisive steps in fostering more inclusive spaces and an equitable workforce.

“I hope the creation of this scholarship shows our students that everyone belongs here, and we are dedicated to their success,” said Mia Farrell, assistant dean and director for diversity in UK’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “While we know more can be done, this is a big step in the right direction.”

Thanks to a grant from JustFundKY, a nonprofit advocacy group for LGBTQ Kentuckians, a commemorative artwork has been commissioned to promote this new scholarship. The print, titled “Ag is for All: Diversity Feeds the World,” was created by queer Kentucky artist Wylie Caudill. Those interested in receiving the artwork may email their request to Seth Riker.

Related: Elon University social entrepreneurs help black-owned businesses find new customers

“While we know this scholarship will lessen financial burdens for our students, we also hope Wylie’s artwork will leave a lasting impression in the spaces it is posted,” said Carmen Agouridis, associate dean for instruction in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “Tomorrow’s solutions will require unique passions and skills from all backgrounds. And everyone should be able to contribute as their authentic self.”

Students like Wilson agree. “Thankfully, I have a cohort that allows me to express myself without judgement,” said Wilson. “I believe that individuals who are underrepresented should be allowed to express, experience and engage comfortably at their university.”

Those wishing to support this newly created scholarship may donate via University of Kentucky’s Network for Good website.

This article has been edited from the original version appearing on the University of Kentucky website.

Elizabeth Rogg: Doing the Most Good

By Meagan Harkins

Elizabeth Jensen Rogg, a 2015 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award recipient, chose Shenandoah University (SU) after touring the Winchester, Va. school and feeling a keen sense of belonging on the small campus tucked away in the Shenandoah Valley. And she discovered her life’s calling as a social worker after several service-based trips sponsored by SU.

The first trip took place after Hurricane Sandy struck New York in 2012. “When they said we’d be cleaning up after a hurricane, I said it was not for me,” recalled Rogg, who now lives in Mineral, Va. with her family. Still, she ended up going on the humanitarian mission due to her relationship with the campus pastor and students involved in the ministry. She and her fellow volunteers spent their spring break cleaning up debris and sleeping away the nights on the floor of a church in Staten Island.

“But I think the one trip that really helped shape me and realize that I belonged in social work was when I went, during the summer after my freshman year, to live in Africa for about two and a half months,” she said.

Rogg found herself working in the Dandora slums of Nairobi, Kenya, teaching three-year-olds how to speak English at the Baptist Children Center. She had first felt drawn to Africa after Twesigye Jackson Kaguri, founder and director of the Nyaka and Kutamba AIDS Orphans Schools in Uganda, spoke to her freshman class at Shenandoah. Kaguri, who grew up in a small Ugandan village, began his speech at SU by breaking a pencil into three parts, illustrating how a single pencil had to be divided and shared between himself, his brother and his sister when they were school children. “I don’t think anyone left that room without feeling something,” Rogg said.

After a quick Google search, Rogg found Buckner International, a Texas-based mission agency. She joined this group of strangers from Texas and trundled off to live in Kenya for a summer. “I went to Africa with the idea that I was going to change the world, but that’s not how it goes,” she said. Faced with the poverty of a developing country, she felt overwhelmed as she realized how much she took for granted as an American, but her desire to be a social worker caught fire. “As a social worker, you have the ability to make a positive impact in someone’s life, and changing that individual’s world is just as important,” she said.

Related: The church and the classroom are holy places for Dr. Ray Penn

The Servanthood Tradition
Returning to Shenandoah, Rogg continued to make a positive impact by creating a student-led group called Friends of Nyaka. The group partnered with Kaguri’s nonprofit, Nyaka Global, to organize fundraisers throughout the year to benefit partner schools in Uganda.

For their main annual fundraiser, called the Barefoot Mile, students, staff and community members received financial pledges for each mile they ran barefoot, honoring the great distances that many Ugandan children walk on bare feet to and from school each morning and afternoon.

In addition to running Friends of Nyaka, Rogg was a First Year Seminar Mentor for two years at SU, assisting faculty members by serving as an advisor to first-year students as they transitioned into university life. She also served two years as president of SU’s chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children, a program partnering individuals with local children with disabilities.

“I wasn’t expecting that Shenandoah would have such a positive impact on my life, even in tiny things,” Rogg said. Meanwhile, others were taking notice of the impact Rogg herself was having on SU. Her service-above-self lifestyle was acknowledged by multiple professors and a fellow classmate, a mere acquaintance, when they each nominated Rogg for the Sullivan Award. That fellow student happened to be sitting next to Rogg at SU’s graduation ceremony and gave her a hug when she returned from stage.

Rogg was particularly surprised by the recognition since switching majors had allowed her to graduate a year early—hence, most folks in her graduating class did not know her. “I remember being shocked that my name was called,” she said. “When they were reading my biography, I turned around to my friend and jokingly said, ‘This person does a lot of the same things I do.’”

Related: Police psychologist Kimberly Miller works through law enforcement to help the underserved

SU President Tracy Fitzsimmons and Dr. Justin Allen presented the award to Rogg. “They are two individuals who inspired me in my academic career, and it was such an honor to be presented this prestigious award by the two of them,” Rogg added.

Beyond academics, Shenandoah’s United Methodist Church Foundation influenced Rogg’s trajectory. “It was where my faith took priority,” she said. “Then my faith played a huge part in me becoming a social worker in the servanthood [tradition].”

Living the Faith
Rogg went on to earn her M.S. in social work from the University of Louisville in 2017. She then worked for Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope for two years in St. Mary’s, Ga. The initiative was launched in 2011 with the main goal of breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty through strength-based case management, community collaboration and data-driven support.

As a Pathway of Hope program manager, Rogg helped with project planning, including monthly job skill training and family nights, and was a case manager for 30 families. Working to equip so many families for success was daunting, but it taught Rogg to appreciate the little victories of bringing light into someone’s life. It also taught her to humbly trust that any effects that her work had on the parents would positively impact their children as well.

Rogg recalled one family case she dealt with during her two-year stint with the Salvation Army. Referred by the Department of Family Services, the parents’ two children had been recently put in foster care. At the time, Rogg thought, “The reality was that there was no way they’d be getting their children back.”

But from this experience, Rogg learned to never say never. The parents attended every job skills class, individual therapy session, family therapy session and caseworker meeting. They took advantage of every other resource at their disposal. And, about two months after Rogg had resigned from the Salvation Army, the couple called to thank her—they had regained custody of their daughters.

“Those girls would have probably remained in foster care if it wasn’t for our program and its ability to help build up that mom and dad by providing them with the skills they needed to be successful parents and to be there for their daughters,” Rogg said. “It was really special.”

When she first arrived at Shenandoah, Rogg was told, “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, at all the times you can.” This mantra resurfaced during her tenure at the Salvation Army, whose motto is “Doing the Most Good.”

Related: Rollins College alumnus “Papa Viva” creates safe haven for families affected by AIDS

“It’s just opened my eyes that you can do good anywhere,” Rogg said. “You don’t necessarily have to be in a professional setting to do good.” To continue providing both help and hope for others after leaving the Salvation Army, she has worked at a food pantry, volunteered at her church, helped quarantined community members during Covid-19, and performed her own important daily chores as a parent.

She has been married to Zack Rogg for six years, and they have relocated three times as a military family. After losing their first son, Maddox, she is now a full-time mom to her two-year-old daughter, Madden. “I feel like I lost so many experiences with my son, and I didn’t want to miss them with her, so that was the real driving factor for me staying home with her and not taking for granted the little things,” Rogg said. “The beautiful creature she is helped me heal in ways I’ve never expected.”

To celebrate Maddox’s birthday each year, the Rogg family has made sure to do something that emphasizes kindness and spreads love. The first year, a stranger donated money to the Sunshine School in Gambia, Africa, paying to erect a gate built in honor of Maddox and a plaque with his name. This past year, they collected books from friends and family to send to the Sunshine School. “To see these children’s faces means the world and honors Maddox in such a special way,” Rogg said.

In her personal life, Rogg continues her mission as a social worker daily—clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and giving shelter to those in need. Talking to her, one is reminded of a famous quote by St. Teresa of Ávila: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

A Gifted Artist and a Business Major Receive Sullivan Awards from Carson-Newman University

Carson-Newman University, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, has recognized art major Jessica Borchert and business major Miguel Flores with the highest honor the university presents to its students: the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

“We are proud of Jessica and Miguel for what they have accomplished. They have truly demonstrated what it means to be servant-leaders,” said University President Charles A. Fowler. “They leave Carson-Newman with our prayers and blessings on what we are certain are bright futures.”

A resident of Jefferson City, Tenn., Borchert pursued a major in art. She began her time at Carson-Newman at the age of 16 when she was a junior in high school taking dual-enrollment classes. She was the very first high school student to become a Carson-Newman Faith and Justice Scholar. Once she graduated high school and matriculated to C-N, she progressed from Junior Scholar to Scholar and graduated with the record for the longest-serving Faith and Justice Scholar.

Related: Three servant leaders receive Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards from Shenandoah University

Through her time as a Faith and Justice Scholar, Borchert served multiple community partners, ranging from Appalachian Outreach to East TN Children’s Hospital to Mossy Creek Counseling and more. She has also been recognized for her artistic accomplishments, including being showcased in over a dozen solo and group exhibitions as well as taking home multiple prizes for her filmmaking, including first prize in the Student Competition of the 2017 Knoxville Film Festival.

“During her tenure at Carson-Newman, Jessica has set herself apart in academics and service and has embodied the C-N values of truth, beauty and goodness,” said Dave McNeely, coordinator of the Faith and Justice Scholars program.

Flores, a business major, hails from Gatlinburg. Tenn. As a Bonner Scholar, he logged more than 1,650 service hours during his time at Carson-Newman, more than any other senior in his class. He volunteered at the Jefferson City Public Library, Habitat for Humanity and the Center for Community Engagement.

“He is extremely intelligent and has used his knowledge of business and practical skill set to directly benefit our sites and projects many times over,” said Center for Community Engagement Director Matt Bryant Cheney. “He is a critical thinker with a strong moral compass who makes every team better that he’s a part of.”

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Carson-Newman University website.

 

Down Syndrome Is No Barrier to Entrepreneurship for This Clemson LIFE Graduate

In only a year since graduating from Sullivan Foundation partner school Clemson University, Lucy Graham has grown her own jewelry business, the Upside Down Collection, into a thriving online and increasingly in-person business.

The business doubles as an advocacy platform for people with intellectual disabilities—its mission is to share “the upside of Down syndrome”—much in the same way the University’s Clemson LIFE program sends a message to anyone who might doubt the abilities of its students.

A Clemson LIFE graduate, Lucy is proof-positive that those doubts are increasingly without merit. The Clemson LIFE program is a post-secondary education program for students with intellectual disabilities. It prioritizes job skills and independent living, and Lucy is one of the program’s many alumni with Down syndrome.

Related: Shepherd Hotel to employ adults with intellectual disabilities from Clemson LIFE Program in 2021

Lucy didn’t catapult to her current role alone. She was supported by her parents, Bob and Susan Graham of Columbia, S.C., as well as the entire Clemson LIFE staff, most notably Sarah McAlpine, an employment instructor in the program who has become a close friend to Lucy. After four years in the role, Sarah is aware that growth among her students changes depending on their learning style and their particular intellectual disability. But she said the support Lucy enjoyed from her family made unlocking Lucy’s potential much easier.

“Lucy’s family is incredible, and they’ve given her every opportunity—they gave her wings,” Sarah said. “But you can’t fly until you’re on your own, and I can say I got to see Lucy soar when she got to the Clemson LIFE program.”

Lucy Graham, founder of The Upside Down Collection, graduated from the Clemson LIFE program in 2021.

Lucy finished the program as COVID-19 suspended in-person learning at Clemson in spring 2020, so she graduated a year later on April 24 along with the Clemson LIFE class of 2021. Bob said that, before joining Clemson LIFE, Lucy had benefitted from the curriculum for high school students with intellectual disabilities at Cardinal Newman School in Columbia. Much like the LIFE program, students at Cardinal Newman enjoy a simplified curriculum, and they are largely folded into the same activities as other students. At the time, Lucy was a cheerleader and manager on the basketball team.

Bob said Lucy and his family have enjoyed encouragement and support over the years from their friends and community. Bob said the true value in the LIFE program for Lucy was less about learning to fight negative stigma and more about the lessons that came from living and working independently.

Lucy has translated the skills she learned from the LIFE program into the Upside Down Collection. She not only designs and assembles the jewelry, but she also prepares, packages and ships most of the orders she puts together.

The Upside Down Collection includes this “Let Me Have Faith” bracelet.

“The Upside Down Collection is important because it helps to show people I am more than my disability,” Lucy said. “My business gives me confidence that I can design and sell jewelry and be successful. It’s fun to model the jewelry and hang out with my friends.”

According to her dad, Lucy “is in control of her day, and she enjoys being able to make decisions on her own without me or her mom telling her what to do. We’re all kind of learning as we go with how to run a business like this. Honestly, the further down the road we get, the clearer it is that this is a real career path for her.”

The idea for the Upside Down Collection came from a conversation between Bob, Susan and Sarah about the best type of post-graduation position for Lucy. They knew her love for modeling jewelry was matched only by how much she enjoyed exercising her creative muscles. She could easily handle a job in a coffee shop or a gym, but they worried that those positions wouldn’t appeal to her creative side.

Related: University of Alabama creates free program to help children with disabilities and developmental delays

The jewelry business was an obvious solution, and the Graham family invited Sarah to join them as a business partner. When they first started getting the business off the ground, Sarah would begin individual pieces and Lucy would assemble the final half, but they have quickly started ordering material that Lucy can complete from beginning concept to finished product. Bob is continually impressed with how well the pieces sell, and he is the proud holder of one of Lucy’s first creative pieces.

“Lucy went to camps with girls without disabilities since she was six or seven years old, and I still have an ‘I Love Dad’ card she made for me back then,” Bob said. “That’s not for sale.”

Lucy Graham and Sarah McAlpine became close friends during Lucy’s time with the Clemson LIFE program.

As Lucy made her way through the Clemson LIFE program, Sarah enjoyed seeing her social skills develop quickly. Lucy took classes, joined a sorority, got into yoga, and became what Sarah calls a “top-tier” Clemson football fan who would put almost anything on hold to enjoy a game.

“The Clemson LIFE program was a great experience and has helped me with my disability and made me a successful person,” Lucy said. “I really enjoyed being in the LIFE program with my friends and making new friends there.”

Related: George Mason University graduate advocates for those with “invisible disabilities”

Lucy enjoyed the life of a college student that so many people with intellectual disabilities would never normally experience, but Sarah’s job is to prepare students for what comes after. As an employment instructor for Clemson LIFE, Sarah plays a key role in helping students learn essential job skills while coordinating employment with 38 different employment and business partners, roughly half of which exist outside of the university.

Lucy worked during college at a location of the Your Pie pizza chain, one of many restaurants that partner with Clemson LIFE. With help from the program, Lucy excelled in the job just as she excelled at living independently with other students during the final half of her four years at Clemson. If self-employment with the Upside Down Collection wasn’t in the cards for her, Sarah is sure that Lucy would currently be some lucky business’s top employee.

It’s not just her creativity, according to Bob, but the “soft skills” that Lucy developed in Clemson LIFE that helps her sell what she creates. The trunk shows and in-person selling was abbreviated this past year due to COVID-19, but Lucy thrives on interacting with customers on social media and is eager to get back to in-person selling.

this photo shows a set of bracelets offered by The Upside Down Collection, a business started by Lucy Graham, who has Down syndrome

These bracelets were developed in a collaboration between The Upside Down Collection and Pals Programs.

Lucy also enjoys giving back to and supporting the Down syndrome community. She and her family developed the Rainbow Collection of jewelry to benefit Ruby’s Rainbow, a nonprofit with a mission to grant scholarships to adults with Down syndrome who are seeking post-secondary education, enrichment or vocational classes. Additionally, the Upside Down Collection has featured bracelets developed in collaboration with Pals Programs, which creates inclusive camp experiences for individuals with or without Down syndrome.

Sarah said that every piece of jewelry that sells and every person Lucy meets is another mindset changed for the better.

“People with intellectual disabilities and their families are told too many times—and often by people who should know better—that they can’t do this or that,” Sarah said. “The Graham family wants people to see that Down syndrome doesn’t mean ‘can’t,’ and the Upside Down Collection sends that message loud and clear.”

For more about the Upside Down Collection, check out the website or visit the business on Facebook and Instagram.

This article has been edited and slightly expanded from the original version appearing on the Clemson University website.

UNA-USA Seeks Next Youth Observer to the United Nations

Young Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 are invited to submit their applications to serve as the UNA-USA’s 10th Youth Observer to the United Nations.

Applications must be submitted by Sunday, June 13. Click here to apply.

For a one-year term, the UNA-USA Youth Observer elevates youth voices in global policy dialogue around international issues; engages and connects young people in the U.S. to the work of the United Nations; and travels across the U.S. to discover the issues important to young Americans.

The most critical role of the Youth Observer is to engage young Americans in the work of the UN and its agencies.

Throughout their term, the Youth Observer will attend UN briefings, both virtually and in person; organize and speak at national events; participate in coalitions to support a strong U.S.-UN partnership; and serve as a UNA-USA delegate at UN conferences.

Dustin Liu is wrapping up his year as the UNA-USA Youth Observer to the United Nations

This position requires a commitment of about eight to 10 hours per week and occasional travel to New York City, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities. (All travel is tentative, pending a lift on COVID-19 restrictions as determined by the CDC and its guidelines.)

Dustin Liu, the 2020-21 UNA-USA Youth Observer, has worked with the Sullivan Foundation over the past year. In February 2021, he shared his story and ideas for sparking global social change on the local level in the Foundation’s first Ignite Masterclass for the Spring 2021 semester.

In April 2021, Liu also served as a coach in the Sullivan Foundation’s Skills-Based Sessions, a unique virtual series featuring workshop activities that helped students achieve their personal goals and live a more productive and meaningful life.

Sullivan Award Recipient Kylie Stottlemyer Supports Survivors of Rape and Domestic Violence

Kylie Stottlemyer is the first-ever criminal justice major to graduate with an honors degree from Sullivan Foundation partner school Mary Baldwin University (MBU). She was also the student recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for 2021, along with Professor of Philosophy Roderic Owen, who received the faculty award.

Stottlemyer exemplifies the Sullivan qualities of noble character and unselfish service,” according to a statement on MBU’s website. “She is regarded as an outstanding leader whose daily life exhibits love and helpfulness to others and whose service is marked by sincerity, humility and integrity, and personification of service above self. Her engagement across her four years at Mary Baldwin spans student leadership positions including SGA treasurer and president of the criminal justice and social work clubs, and many hours of volunteer service with the Rape Aggression Defense Group, Samaritan’s Purse International and CASA. Her academic achievement is also exemplary as a Baldwin Honors Scholar graduating in criminal justice and a Capstone Festival award winner.”

Related: Sullivan Award recipient Dr. Marsha Walton leaves meaningful legacy at Rhodes College

Stottlemyer’s senior thesis won a top honors award at the Capstone Festival this year. It presented the results of her partnership with a small Shenandoah Valley police department to investigate the complex relationship between law enforcement, the community and victims of crime. Though her thesis is complete, she continues to work with the department to create better training opportunities for their officers.

Kylie Stottlemyer

Stottlemyer also serves as a court and community collaboration coordinator for survivors of domestic and sexual violence at Response, Inc. She served in leadership roles for nine student organizations on campus, including the SGA Executive Committee, and received the President’s Award in 2020 for excellence in leadership.

She is also the first person in her family to earn a college degree. “Being able to continue my education after high school was a goal that I set out to achieve, and I can proudly say that I have now accomplished it with the guidance of my faith, my family and my friends,” she said.

After graduation, Stottlemyer will begin a master’s program in homeland security and emergency preparedness at Virginia Commonwealth University.

MBU President Pamela Fox and Sullivan Award recipient Roderic Owen

Roderic Owen, the faculty recipient of the Sullivan Award, is “beloved and universally respected by the entire Mary Baldwin family in commitment and connections spanning 41 years,” according to the MBU website.

Related: How Sullivan Award recipient Issy Rushton guided her University of South Carolina campus through the pandemic.

“In my more than 40 years in higher education, I can sincerely affirm that I have not been privileged to work with a more exemplary colleague and citizen,” said MBU President Pamela R. Fox, who bestows the Sullivan Awards each year.

“Owen has left an integral mark on his colleagues, thousands of students, and the founding and developing of signature Mary Baldwin programs in education, the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership, the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, the adult degree program, the Spencer Center, and the Coalition for Racial and Social Justice. He is a champion of the MBU mission and of the centrality of the liberal arts, international studies, diversity and inclusion, and much more.”

Sullivan Award Recipient Sandra Reid Was a ‘Tremendous Force for Good’ at Elon University

Sandra Reid, a lecturer in human service studies, recently received the 2021 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award from Sullivan Foundation partner school Elon University for her decades of selfless public service.

Vice President for Student Life Jon Dooley presented the annual award at a recent ceremony, calling Reid “a tremendous force for good at the university and in the community.”

“Sandra demonstrates the highest standards of character, integrity and leadership in service to others and the community,” Dooley said.

Related: Lucy Burch, a “unicorn” at Huntingdon College, honored with Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award is presented each year by more than 70 colleges and universities in the American South. At Elon University, the award is presented to two students and one faculty or staff member who demonstrate the highest standards of character, integrity and service to others and to their community.

This year’s student recipients were Yannick Twumasi, a political science and international relations double-major, and Jubitza Figueroa, a political science major.

Sandra Reid

A 1985 Elon graduate in human service studies, Reid spent nearly two decades working in juvenile justice in Alamance County, Guilford County and the Triad area before joining Elon’s faculty full time in 2006. She earned her master’s in counseling from N.C. Central University in 1999.

Among many roles with state, regional and local civic boards—often focused on services that impact youth and the community’s most vulnerable—Reid has served in various capacities on the Governor’s Crime Commission since 2007, as chair of the Alamance County Community Services Agency Board of Directors, and as chair of the Positive Attitude Youth Center Board of Directors.

Reid is currently serving as a member of the Alamance County Community Coalition of Remembrance, working with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., to memorialize the lynchings that occurred in Alamance County at the EJI national museum and monument.

“As an alumna of Elon University and the human service studies program, Sandra Reid demonstrates on a daily basis what it means to work to improve her community and the lives of those who are often excluded from it,” said Bud Warner, associate professor and chair of the Human Service Studies Department. “Sandra is an outstanding role model for our HSS students. She inspires them to tackle the difficult and challenging issues facing us today.”

“I’ve always felt like [serving others] is the purpose of my life, and I am honored to be recognized for something that’s such a part of who I am,” Reid said.

Related: How Sullivan Award recipient Issy Rushton guided her University of South Carolina campus through the pandemic.

Reid found her calling within juvenile justice while completing a high school senior seminar course in Greensboro for students interested in social work. She realized early on how broader societal and community issues can lead to trauma that results in criminal behavior, and that those root causes need to be addressed, along with individual rehabilitation and support.

While serving on the Governor’s Crime Commission, she was part of the task force that worked toward raising the age of majority within the state’s criminal system from 16 to 18 years old. North Carolina was the last U.S. state to raise that age when it did so in December. Along with research-based interventions, she hopes that change will decrease the “revolving door” of youth and adults in the criminal system.

“It’s hard for a system to be a family for children,” Reid said, “so if I can influence students who are interested in the field now and train them to work with communities and systems, they will be able to provide the support for individuals and families that is needed so much in this profession.”

At Elon, Reid teaches numerous courses, including juvenile justice, criminal justice, working with groups and communities, and the African-American family. Her civic roles and responsibilities continue to inform her teaching.

“You can’t separate a community in tatters from individual trauma,” Reid said. “That’s the core of what we teach in the Human Service Studies Department, from the micro piece of families and individuals, to services at the advocacy and community level, to the macro level of policies and systems—and we are able to teach students interested in working at all of those levels.”

She is involved with the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education’s DEEP program, providing opportunities to learn about, reflect on and apply concepts of social justice with a foundation in racial equity. In 2018, students selected Reid as the recipient of the Wilhelmina Boyd Community Service Award, presented at the Phillips-Perry Black Excellence Awards.

Angela Lewellyn Jones, associate dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, and associate professor of social justice, noted the many community organizations, boards, commissions and nonprofits to which Reid lends her time and talent.

“She has been a reliable and inspiring presence in these organizations, just as she has been for her students here at Elon,” Lewellyn Jones said. “We couldn’t be happier that she has been selected as the recipient of this year’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.”

Reid recently served on Elon’s History and Memory committee, examining untold aspects of the university’s past, including anti-Black racism and unheralded achievements by Black students, and guiding steps to ensure the committee acts in culturally appropriate ways going forward.

“I see the work I do in the community, in the classroom and on Elon’s committees as interconnected,” Reid said. “If we can get people to understand root causes, our solutions will make better sense.”

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Elon University website.

Sullivan Award Recipient Dr. Marsha Walton Leaves Meaningful Legacy at Rhodes College

In her 41 years at Sullivan Foundation partner school Rhodes College, retiring Professor of Psychology Dr. Marsha Walton has successfully merged outstanding scholarly achievements with a dedication to mentoring students, helping them to open their eyes to opportunities and navigate new experiences. That’s why she was honored as the non-student recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Rhodes College’s commence ceremony earlier this month.

Walton has authored or co-authored more than 90 conference presentations and 30 research publications and book chapters. As part of her research, she has collected stories from thousands of children describing their own experiences with peer conflict and with social relationships. This work has contributed to an understanding of conflict resolution, friendship and moral development.

Related: King University honors two students and minister with Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards

Walton has mentored more than 75 undergraduate researchers whose work has resulted in publications and national and international conference presentations. More than 40 of her research students have gone on to earn doctorates in psychology, and many more have formed successful careers in education, public health, medicine and allied health professions.

One of those mentees was Dr. Sherry Turner, vice president of strategic initiatives at Rhodes. “Rhodes is committed to cultivating a lifelong passion for learning among its students,” Turner said. “Marsha Walton’s investment in me as a student has certainly yielded life-long impact. Working with her was the high point of my experience at Rhodes. She was an outstanding professor and mentor.”

“When I was a student, she saw my potential, held me to high standards, invited me to join her research team, and encouraged me to pursue graduate studies as a developmental psychologist,” Turner added. “She has continued to inspire me at every phase of my professional career. When I was a graduate student, she invited me to return to Rhodes to teach and complete my dissertation research. When I returned to Memphis three years ago, she invited me to visit the campus. At the time, I could not have imagined that I would become the vice president of strategic initiatives. Rhodes has been fortunate to have had a member of its faculty whose very presence has enhanced the lives of its students in extraordinary ways. I am delighted to salute Marsha’s career at my alma mater.”

A collaboration between Walton and Alice Davidson, a 2002 graduate of Rhodes College, resulted in the book, “Conflict Narratives in Middle Childhood: The Social, Emotional, and Moral Significance of Story-Sharing,” which was published in 2017. The book examines nearly 3,000 narratives from children about their own experiences with interpersonal conflict. Davidson, now an associate professor and chair of psychology at Sullivan Foundation partner school Rollins College, emulates Walton’s approach to mentoring by including students in her community-based research.

Related: Trio of servant leaders receive Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards at Queens University of Charlotte

Dr. Walton works with a baby in her early years at Rhodes College.

Walton, who joined the Rhodes faculty in 1979, has encouraged students to think broadly about the intersections between psychology and other disciplines. She has taught interdisciplinary courses with faculty in biology, economics, English, history, mathematics, gender and sexuality studies, philosophy, religious studies, sociology, educational studies, and theatre. Walton also was an early adopter of service-learning pedagogies, having her students work in settings off campus.

In 1999, when Rhodes formed a partnership with the Memphis Non-Violence Education and Advocacy Network to increase community involvement in creating peaceable schools, Walton participated. She currently collaborates with Dr. Kiren Khan, an assistant professor of psychology, to study narratives of preschoolers, and with Dr. Elizabeth Thomas, a professor of psychology at Rhodes, on the Community Narrative Research Project, in which participants of Bonner Scholars program at Rhodes shared stories about their experiences serving in Memphis communities as part of their scholarship.

For the breadth and depth of her work, Walton won the Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity in 2018. When the Council on Undergraduate Research named her a recipient of its Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research in the Social Sciences Award in 2020, Walton commented, “It is amazing to be given an award for doing something this intrinsically rewarding.”

In retirement, Walton plans to spend more time in nature, canoeing, biking, and hiking, but she will continue her research and writing, seeking to learn more about how children and adults make their lives meaningful as they share stories about their everyday experiences.

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Rhodes College website.

King University Honors Two Students and Minister With Sullivan Awards

King University, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, recently presented the 2021 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards to students Kiayana Roberts and Megan Hagy and community member the Rev. Dr. W. A. Johnson for their high standards of character, integrity and service and commitment to creating positive change in their communities.

Crestview, Florida native Kiayana Roberts graduated from King University in December 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. While there, she served as the president of the Student Government Association, chair of the Student Life Activities Committee at King (SLACK) and resident assistant. She also volunteered in numerous clubs, ministries and campus organizations. She is currently pursuing a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy while working as an area coordinator as part of King’s residence life staff. She plans a career in the juvenile rehabilitation sector of criminal justice.

“Kiayana is an amazing student with strong faith and character, representative of the values and standards held by King University,” said Chase Arndt, director of student life at King University. “She lives out her faith in Christ by her devotion and care to those around her, and she is always looking for new ways she can serve or reach out to those in need.”

Related: How Sullivan Award recipient Issy Rushton guided her University of South Carolina campus through the pandemic.

“Among the various ways that Kiayana was engaged in campus life during her time at King, the thing that consistently stood out was her strong sense of ethics and her care and concern about those with whom she was working,” said Dr. Matt Peltier, King’s dean of academic services and university librarian. “It was apparent that she approached things through a lens of grace, love and compassion, respecting the integrity and inherent worth of others, while also being committed to maintaining her own integrity.”

Megan Hagy is a 2021 graduate of King with a BS in Biology. Throughout her four years as a full-time student, she worked as a kennel technician, initiated numerous informal study groups to help classmates with difficult courses, and organized Bible studies involving both students and professors. A native of Bristol, Virginia, she plans to pursue veterinary school and eventually own her own veterinary practice.

“Megan is humble, giving and encouraging in a way that puts others first and never seeks the spotlight for herself,” said Dr. Laura Ong, an associate professor of biology. “She is one of the most selfless students I have ever taught or spent time with and is beloved by students and faculty for her cheerful manner, her unflagging efforts in her studies, and her habit of lifting others’ spirits with her quiet encouragement. She has spent many hours working to support herself, her family and her career goals. Her dedication to those who depend on her has left precious little time for herself, which makes her daily outreach to others all the more remarkable.”

“In her time at King, Megan has built lasting relationships with both her peers and faculty,” said Assistant Professor of Biology Josh Rudd. “Her kindness, cheer and compassion speak louder than words, filling the lives of those around her with love. It is King’s honor to bestow this award on her as a standard-bearer of its ideals.”

The Rev. Dr. W.A. Johnson grew up in the Hampton, Virginia area and is a graduate of Virginia Union University in Richmond, the Virginia Seminary in Lynchburg, and the Chicago Theological Seminary at the University of Chicago. For six decades, he has served as a spiritual leader to Bristol, the surrounding region and the Commonwealth. He is a former trustee of Virginia Union University and has served on a number of boards of directors and advisory boards.

Related: Lucy Burch, a “unicorn” at Huntingdon College, honored with Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Johnson organized the Bristol Head Start Center in 1966, led several capital projects at Lee Street Baptist Church, served as the moderator of the Schaeffer Memorial Baptist Association of Southwest Virginia, led the Baptists of Virginia to build a new state office in Richmond, and has helped plant churches in Central Asia, Africa, Haiti, Cuba, and South Africa. He served as an open-door devotional speaker for WCYB for 30 years. He currently serves on the boards of WHCB, WLFG, Bristol Faith in Action, Mike Jenkins Ministries Inc., and Living Faith Ministries Inc., and he presents the “Living Word” television program on WLFG every Sunday morning.

“Dr. Johnson has borne witness to the transforming love and grace of Jesus Christ, both in his pastoral ministry at Lee Street Baptist Church and in his significant community leadership through times of crisis and growth,” said Martin Dotterweich, Ph.D., professor of history and director of King University’s Institute for Faith and Culture. “When he arrived in Bristol in 1961, he assumed it would be a short stop on his way to a larger ministry in a larger city, but he felt God’s call to stay here to be a beacon for the African-American community and to work for the building of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the ‘beloved community.’ He has lived a life of selflessness and care for others, and it is our honor to recognize his lifetime of service.”

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the King University website.

Trio of Servant Leaders Receive Sullivan Awards at Queens University of Charlotte

Known for her strong sense of integrity, conviction and passion, Queens University of Charlotte senior Sydney Stepney has excelled both inside and outside of the classroom. Her excellent character and commitment to humanitarian service has also earned her the 2021 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Queens.

Since 1948, Queens has selected individuals to receive the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for excellence of character and humanitarian service. Two awards are typically presented to recognize and honor a member of the graduating class, as well as a person or couple affiliated with the university who represent the highest ideals of both the university and society.

Judy and Paul Leonard were this year’s community recipients.

Related: How Sullivan Award recipient Issy Rushton guided her University of South Carolina campus through the pandemic

During her time at Queens, Stepney served as a resident assistant and then as head resident assistant during her junior and senior years. Her exemplary service and leadership in those roles led her to receive the 2020 Resident Assistant of the Year Award. Additionally, she tutored peers through the Roadmap Scholar program and served as a mentor through the L.E.A.D. (Learn, Empower, Act, Diversify) mentoring program and Transition to University (T2U) program.

An active member of the Black Student Union, she became one of the inaugural Racial Justice Fellows for the Charlotte Racial Justice Consortium. This group was charged with examining the city’s history with race and equality and leading healing projects in the community.

She was also a Charlotte AHEC Public Health Scholar, where she worked to improve the diversity of health professions and to support health system transformations across the state.

Stepney has received a full scholarship to Ohio State University’s Masters in Healthcare Administration program, where she will continue pursuing her goal to provide leadership that bridges the gap between health literacy and health equity.

this photo shows Judy and Paul Leonard receiving the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Queens University of Charlotte

Judy and Paul Leonard accept the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Queens University of Charlotte.

The desire to serve and improve the lives of others has been a driving force for Judy and Paul Leonard throughout their lives and exemplifies the Queens motto, “Not to be Served, But to Serve.”

Judy Moore Leonard, a 1967 graduate of Queens, is a nurse by training, and in 1979 she made the first hospice call in Charlotte for Hospice and Palliative Care of the Charlotte Region. In her 15 years of hospice service, she helped build the foundation for the largest hospice in the Carolinas. Judy has been one of Queens’ most loyal alumni leaders, serving on the Queens Board of Trustees, as president of the Alumni Association Board, and on the Advisory Board of the Presbyterian School of Nursing and Blair College of Health.

Related: Past Sullivan Award recipient Cagney Coomer helps prepare girls of color for careers in science

Paul Leonard’s professional career began in ministry, where he led a non-traditional church that focused on community action and service. While there, Paul helped to organize Charlotte Fair Housing and served as its first president. He later left the traditional ministry to work with a city housing program and was later recruited by the John Crosland Company, where he served for many years in various executive leadership positions. After retiring, he used his extensive experience in the housing industry as a resource for service with Habitat for Humanity International, where he served as chairman of the board.

Judy has also been committed to creating fair housing opportunities for all citizens. She is a past board chair of Habitat Charlotte, and she also organized the first Women Build project for Our Towns Habitat. Together with Paul, she participated in eight Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Projects and in building efforts on five continents. In 2011, the Leonards were honored with the Habitat Charlotte’s Founders Award for their extraordinary service and commitment to the mission of Habitat.

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Queens University of Charlotte website.