Mercer University Grad Focuses on HIV Prevention in Peace Corps Work

By Jennifer Borage

One year after graduating from Sullivan Foundation partner school Mercer University, Kayla Beasley is making an impact in Uganda as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Her work mainly focuses on HIV prevention among youth, adolescent girls and young women. But it’s wide-ranging, also touching on maternal and child health; water, hygiene and sanitation; and malaria prevention. “Every day is different, and each day brings something new to learn or teach,” said Beasley, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2018 majoring in global health studies with a double-minor in global development studies and history.

Beasley works with the Makerere University Walter Reed Project, a nongovernmental organization focused on HIV research and prevention in Uganda. She’s mainly working on two projects in support of the group—implementing the Grassroots Soccer program at primary and secondary schools and giving lessons as part of the DREAMS program.

Grassroots Soccer is an adolescent health group that uses soccer to educate and inspire youth to overcome health challenges. “It is a fun and interactive way to engage youth in HIV prevention and malaria prevention,” Beasley said.

DREAMS, which stands for Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe Women, aims to reduce HIV infection among adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan African countries. About 1.3 million adults are living with HIV in Uganda, and women are disproportionately affected, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, known as UNAIDS, which leads the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat.

Over 59% of infected adults are women, according to UNAIDS, and new HIV infections among young women, ages 15-24, were more than double those among young men.

As part of the DREAMS program, Beasley gives lessons on sexual reproductive health, which oftentimes include discussing maternal and child health. She also teaches girls how to make reusable menstrual pads as a way of empowering them to not be embarrassed by menstruation. Embarrassment often leads to girls missing school and feeling ostracized in their communities, Beasley said.

Making the pads is also used as an income-generating activity and leads to discussions about water, hygiene and sanitation, which is essential to prevent infections and diseases, she said.

Beasley lives in Central Uganda in a district called Kayunga about 50 miles northeast of Kampala, the country’s capital. Every region of Uganda is distinct, she said, which makes traveling in her free time enjoyable. “Every region has different tribes which speak different languages, so you get to experience a variety of cultures in just one country,” Beasley said.

Beasley said her biggest challenge has been learning to take one day at a time. “Throughout Peace Corps service, there are specific points in service when volunteers are usually in a high point or low point in their service,” she said. “But what many people fail to understand is that … you have several highs and lows in just a single day. I am constantly reminding myself to keep putting myself out there because even if I can’t see it now, I am impacting someone’s life in some way or fashion by just showing up and being there.”

Beasley said her time at Mercer prepared her for the Peace Corps experience by giving her an understanding of the universal problems faced around the world, especially in developing countries, and how developed countries have contributed to and perpetuated those issues. The university also taught her how to “effectively, respectfully and positively contribute to the uplifting and development of those countries,” she said.

She said she’s grateful to her professors “for everything they taught me over my four years at Mercer and the tools and knowledge that they knowingly and unknowingly imparted on me, which have not only impacted my life but also the lives of the people I work with every day in my community.”

This story originally appeared on the Mercer University website.

Sullivan Ambassador Lori Kaitlyn Babb Aims to Use Social Entrepreneurship and Bioethics to ‘Change the World”

Steeped in history and brimming with bohemian allure, Prague has a famously romantic past, but for Sullivan Scholar Lori Kaitlyn Babb, it also offers a glimpse of a dazzling future in which innovative young thinkers like herself take the lead in building a better world.

A senior biology major at Campbell University who also serves as a Sullivan Ambassador, Babb spent the month of July in the Czech Republic’s capital city in a Sullivan-sponsored study-abroad experience offered by the Global Leadership Program. The program included two courses, Social Entrepreneurship + Global Change and Philosophies of Leadership, plus an excursion to Vienna, where Babb and her fellow students visited one of the four United Nations headquarters, and a weekend getaway to Budapest, Hungary.

Related: Learn how you can ignite social change at the Sullivan Foundation’s Fall 2019 Ignite Retreat

The scenery in Prague is nothing short of spectacular—towering Gothic cathedrals, magnificent castles plucked from the pages of fairy tales, an ancient astronomical clock with moving figures of the 12 apostles. But the coursework was equally eye-opening, Babb said, thanks to the tutelage of Heather McDougall, founder and executive director of Leadership exCHANGE; Sullivan Foundation President Steve McDavid; and Dr. Jody Holland, an assistant professor in the University of Mississippi’s Department of Public Policy Leadership.

this photo shows the subject's excitement to visit the John Lennon Wall in Prague

Lori Kaitlyn Babb, a Sullivan Ambassador and Sullivan Scholar, poses at the John Lennon Wall in Prague.

“On the academic side, I found the two courses to be incredibly formative in my thought-theory approaches to the ‘soft sciences,’” Babb said. “As a science major, a majority of my schoolwork is in the ‘hard sciences,’ but I loved exploring the social sciences, where methodologies have great variety and there isn’t always a concrete ‘right’ way to do something.”

While social enterprise and leadership were the key subjects of study, the focus “expanded outside of just the classroom and syllabus,” Babb noted, and included presentations by active social entrepreneurs who had gone through the study-abroad program in years past. “To be able to see and meet those who experienced the same program and who took those strides to ignite change and create social enterprises was incredibly inspiring,” she said. “It also emphasizes how life-changing this summer abroad can be if you utilize and maximize the skills and resources the program provides.”

Related: Judson College’s Marion Matters sends students out to serve their community.

Babb learned to expect the unexpected, too—and to embrace challenges to her viewpoint. “The greatest surprise (of the experience) would probably be learning that sometimes you don’t always get quite the answers you expect from the questions you ask,” Babb reflected. “Meaning you have to be expectant of the curveballs that not only business or academia throws at you, but, truly, life as a whole. I thrive in structure and long-term planning, but, realistically, no one can plan for everything.

this photo shows the beauty of Viennese architecture

As part of the study-abroad program in Prague, Lori Kaitlyn Babb and fellow students made a trip to Vienna, Austria.

“This is a life lesson that I didn’t foresee learning in a traditional classroom setting, but the classrooms were innovative on all fronts. Oftentimes, as we delved into project development or topic brainstorming, Dr. Holland would challenge our ideas with nonconventional ideals or devil’s-advocate perspectives. It helped shift my thought process to anticipate hardships and adapt when those inevitable problems arise.”

Babb also took inspiration from many Europeans’ commitment to protecting the environment, practicing sustainability and reducing single-use plastic. “Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about sustainability,” she said. “I loved seeing the strides Eastern European countries were making towards a more sustainable community. For example, when grocery shopping, most people either bring a reusable tote/bag or carry their groceries out in-hand because plastic bags must be purchased. They cost just a couple of crowns, the equivalent of about a nickel. But that small price promotes bringing your own means of transport, which lessens the need for single-use plastic.”

Related: Register here to attend the upcoming Sullivan Faculty Gathering in Asheville, N.C.

Many restaurant customers also do their part for the environment by supplying their reusable own takeout or to-go containers rather than pay an extra fee. They can even order smaller portions to cut back on leftovers. “Not only does this limit plastic usage, but it also helps lessen food waste,” Babb noted. “In similar efforts, within Prague, plastic straws are not readily available or distributed or, in many cases, the straws are eco-friendly. These changes are slight, yet the sum of each person’s efforts will make a difference. I would love to see American entrepreneurs and governmental policy move towards sustainability in a similar manner.”

Babb enjoys a visit to Prague’s famous astronomical clock.

As a biology major, Babb has a particular interest in bioethics as well as social entrepreneurship. She plans to pursue graduate-level studies in bioethics with a focus on science policy. “I would like to steer towards the creation of a venture that can facilitate social change through the intersection of science, art and entrepreneurship,” she said. “During our tour of the United Nations of Vienna, I was overtaken with inspiration from the interdisciplinary work facilitated at an international level within those four walls where I was standing.”

Prior to her summer in Prague, Babb had attended the Sullivan Foundation’s Spring 2019 Ignite Retreat. That event, coupled with her study-abroad experience, got her interested in representing the Sullivan Foundation as a Sullivan Ambassador on the Campbell University campus. “I recognized the greatness of what the Sullivan Foundation has to offer through its programming and events, and it feels almost selfish to keep it to myself,” she said. “I truly think these experiences shifted the big-picture trajectory of my life.”

Related: Saint Leo University gives kids school supplies and fresh, new looks

“I learned how to widen my scope when approaching not only academics or business but in all aspects,” Babb continued. “This mindset of igniting change and working towards a common good shifts your perspective on everything. During my year as a Sullivan Ambassador, I hope I’m able to be that pivotal link for other students who yearn to leave a mark on this world and the Sullivan Foundation, which can help teach them the skills to do so.”

So, all in all, what did she take away from her month-long adventure in Prague? “Never underestimate the greatness you hold within you,” Babb concluded. “Hone your skill sets, continually learn from the world around you and harness your internal power. You can change the world.”

University Faculty Learn to Support Students’ Social Impact Businesses at Upcoming Faculty Gathering

The Sullivan Foundation’s upcoming Faculty Gathering will bring together university faculty and staff members to discuss innovative ways to address community problems through social entrepreneurship. The event, held in conjunction with the Foundation’s Fall 2019 Ignite Retreat, takes place Oct. 18-20 in Asheville, N.C.

The Faculty Gathering will provide know-how and networking opportunities in social entrepreneurship and social-entrepreneurship education to faculty from all over the southeast. Like the Sullivan Foundation’s spring Faculty Summit, the fall Faculty Gathering will offer workshops providing practical knowledge that faculty/staff members can take back to their campuses. Attendees will gain membership in a growing community of professional educators steeped in social entrepreneurship and related fields. Those new to the field will be introduced to some of the major approaches and ideas in social-entrepreneurship education, while both new and experienced participants will get the chance to engage in the event’s hands-on workshops. The workshops include:

Supporting Student Grant-Writing for Social Change: Sullivan has partnered with entrepreneurs from the Little Big Fund to teach participants about the tools and techniques required to support students needing to raise money for a project or social business venture. Faculty and staff will be instructed on how to review grant opportunities for students and explore ways to leverage non-monetary support for student projects. Participating faculty and staff also will be provided a list of potential funding sources for students and gain insight on how to write a grant proposal.

Related: How to Apply for a Sullivan Faculty Fellowship

Experiential Facilitation 101: Faculty Gathering participants will learn about some of the experiential learning tools Sullivan facilitators utilize when producing Sullivan Ignite Retreats. These retreats are designed to immerse students in a series of targeted workshops to assist them in “igniting” ideas for making positive change in their respective communities or developing a social business enterprise or event to solve or alleviate a problem.

Participants will also learn about projects from the latest cohort of Sullivan Faculty/Staff Fellows, including innovative classes and programs that are being developed under the mentorship of Sullivan Foundation staff.

Interested parties may purchase tickets until October 2. For more information about Sullivan’s programming, go to or call 662-236-6335. To register to attend the Faculty Gathering, go to  You may also e-mail questions regarding the events to

Judson College’s Marion Matters Sends Students Out to Serve the Community

Sullivan Foundation partner school Judson College, located in Marion, Ala., knows how to get its students in the mood to serve others from the get-go. It starts with Marion Matters, an annual community-wide project that has been kicking off the new school year since 2004.

This year’s Marion Matters, held Aug. 23, brought Judson students, faculty and staff together with community partners to spend an entire day making a difference all around Perry County. About 129 Judson volunteers took part in the community-service initiative, which was coordinated by Judson College’s Office of Faith-Based Service and Learning.

Marion Matters volunteers worked on outdoor cleanup, maintenance and beautification projects at the Marion Cemetery and teamed up with Main Street Marion partners to clean sidewalks and flower beds in downtown Marion. Others partnered with local schools in Marion and Uniontown, where teams moved and reset playground equipment and fences at Marion Academy, sorted books for an after-school reading program at Uniontown Elementary School, and updated bulletin boards at Francis Marion School in Marion and C.H.O.I.C.E. in Uniontown.

this photo depicts the Marion Matters volunteers in action

Judson College students and Equine Science faculty members brought some four-legged friends to visit the Perry County Nursing Home.

Judson teams also visited and participated in activities with Perry County and Southland Nursing Home residents in Marion, while others visited with adults in Uniontown Adult Day Care Center. Still others spent time visiting homebound Marion community members. One Judson team sorted clothes and assisted with a clothing drive at Sowing Seeds of Hope’s Job Training Center, while some volunteers accomplished various projects at the Lincoln School Museum and Perry Lakes Park.

This year, seven staff members from The Alabama Baptist (TAB) newspaper also joined the Judson teams at a few project sites. Editor-in-chief Jennifer Davis Rash said that participating with Judson in Marion Matters was a “natural partnership” for the first of several service ministry projects The Alabama Baptist plans for the coming year. “Our team loved working alongside the students, faculty and staff [from Judson] and enjoyed getting to know people from the various communities,” said Rash.

TAB Communications Director Debbie Campbell said her team enjoyed interacting with high school students who passed their work stations at Francis Marion School: “One football player stopped to invite us all to come to the football game that night!” she said. “It was exciting to see the commitment and the willingness of Judson students to make a difference in their community.”

this picture shows students helping people in need

The Marion Matters volunteers helped sort clothes for a clothing drive at the Sewing Seeds of Hope Job Training Center.

Amy Butler, Director of Faith-Based Service and Learning at Judson and coordinator of Marion Matters, said that, in addition to the completion of meaningful service projects in Perry County, Marion Matters is often freshman students’ first introduction to the community where they will spend the next three or four years.

Judson freshman Lauren Hicks of Anniston, Ala., enjoyed hearing the stories of the two long-time Marion residents her group visited, and the students in her group quickly realized the mutual benefits of their investment, she said. “Neither of the ladies we visited gets much company, so they loved having a group of women come to talk with them for a while. We definitely left a mark on these two women—you could see it on their faces as we spent time with them—but they also left a mark on us.”

Trinity Littleton, a freshman from Jemison, Ala., said she gained a deeper understanding of this year’s student life theme, “Leave Your Mark,” through her Marion Matters experience. Her group updated bulletin boards at C.H.O.I.C.E Uniontown, a non-profit organization working to build a network of charitable and educational resources for underserved communities in Perry County. “I didn’t realize the impact a bulletin board could have until we actually started talking to the ladies at C.H.O.I.C.E. and understanding more of their perspective,” said Littleton. She added that the staff at C.H.O.I.C.E. had been so busy serving their community with clothing and school supply drives that their bulletin boards, which provided valuable information and community resources, “just needed a little love and attention.”

this photo shows how large the Marion Matters group was

A group shot of this year’s Marion Matters volunteers from Judson College

“After finishing what seemed like such a small project, the reward was much more than I expected,” Littleton said. “The ladies were so appreciative and could not stop taking pictures of our boards. It was the sweetest! I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to participate in a project that interested me and didn’t feel like a chore. It gave me a chance to bond with other girls who share some of the same interests, and, in the end, we all shared the same amount of love and pride for our little bulletin boards. No matter how small it may seem, we all left our own unique mark in Uniontown, and I have no doubt we will always remember the impact!”

In addition to learning about service opportunities that exist in Perry County, Butler said new student participants in Marion Matters can, like Littleton’s group, “learn about their own gifts and talents that they can use to serve people wherever God calls them.”

Judson President W. Mark Tew quoted Mark 10:45 at the Marion Matters debriefing session Friday afternoon, reminding students that in the same way that Jesus “came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many,” the motivation for service “isn’t just the act of service—it is how service is combined in our total giving of ourselves.”

Butler hopes Marion Matters participants will continue to volunteer during and after their time at Judson. “Service to your neighbors is about so much more than just Marion Matters today; it’s a way of life,” Butler said. “As you figure out what talents or skills God has uniquely given you, consider how you can utilize those gifts to be change agents, not only in this community but after you leave this place.”

This story has been edited and shortened from the original version appearing on the Judson College website.


Berea College Named “Best Value College” by Wall Street Journal

Berea College topped the list of “Best Value Colleges” in the nation in The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education (THE) 2020 College Rankings.

Looking at the top 250 schools overall, the rankings calculated which schools provide the best value by dividing each school’s overall score by its average net price according to data from the U.S. Department of Education. The average net price is the total cost of attending a school—including tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other costs—minus federal or institutional financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid. Students who don’t receive any aid aren’t included in the calculation.

Berea’s no-tuition model contributed to its No. 1 best-value ranking. The College ranked No. 155 overall.

Related: Berea College leads nation in campus engagement related to sustainability

“We are thrilled to be ranked at the top of this impressive list of colleges and universities and are proud to be leading a cohort of schools that are committed to the important American ideal of social mobility through educational opportunity,” said Berea College President Lyle Roelofs. “Our no-tuition policy allows us to provide talented students who might not otherwise be able to afford access to a high-quality liberal arts education and transformative experiences and enables them to graduate with little or no debt.”

Following Berea on the list are three schools in the City University of New York (CUNY) system: CUNY City College of New York, CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College and CUNY Hunter College. The University of Washington-Seattle rounds out the top five.

Related: Berea, Alice Lloyd Recognized as Tuition-Free Colleges

Eight of the top 10 best-value colleges in this year’s Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings are public schools whose financial resources are constrained by government budgets.

This story originally appeared on the Berea College website.

Saint Leo University Gives Kids School Supplies and Fresh, New Looks

Schoolchildren in the Savannah, Georgia area headed back to school with plenty of supplies and new looks, thanks to Saint Leo University’s Savannah Education Center. The center hosted an event—called Fresh Start—in July to give back to the community and raise awareness of the educational opportunities offered by Saint Leo University, a Sullivan Foundation partner school.

The Savannah center’s efforts drew news crews with coverage from WTOC-TV, WJCL-TV, WSAV-TV, the Savannah Morning News, and Southern Cross, the newspaper of the Diocese of Savannah.

Saint Leo’s Savannah center partnered with Amerigroup, E-93/Cumulus Radio (WEAS-FM), 100 Black Men of Savannah, Image is Everything Nail Bar, The Truth: Full Service Salon, Future Minds, and Socks for Courtney, for the Fresh Start event.

The children and teens were treated to free haircuts, manicures and hairstyles to try out for their back-to-school look. They also received Saint Leo book bags with supplies.

“This is awesome. This is wonderful,” Marcia Ferman told Southern Cross. Ferman attended the event with her twin sons and three of her grandchildren. Ferman, whose sister attended Saint Leo University and informed her about the event, even had time for a massage while she waited for the children to get haircuts and manicures. “This is very nice to do for the community,” she added.

Showcasing Saint Leo’s core value of community was one of the goals for the event, said Brian Bailey, assistant director of admissions for the Savannah center. It also was an opportunity to re-establish Saint Leo in its new location, said Candis Whitfield, assistant vice president of the Central Region for Saint Leo WorldWide. The Savannah Education Center moved in 2018 and hosted a grand opening in October 2018 at its new site, located at 325 W. Montgomery Crossroads in Savannah.

Saint Leo University’s Savannah Education Center is 14,900 square feet. It features 13 classrooms, a “cyber bar,” Learning Resource Center, computer lab, student study room and student lounge. In addition, the center boasts the university’s third Military Resource Center for student-veterans and military-related students. The Savannah location offers associatebachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Associate degrees are offered in liberal arts, business administration, and criminal justice.

Thanks to Saint Leo’s Fresh Start event, Savannah-area children may not dread hearing three words this year: back to school.

This article was edited slightly from the original version on the Saint Leo University website.

Winthrop University Is a National Leader in Student Voter Engagement

Sullivan Foundation partner school Winthrop University is one of the nation’s best schools at getting its students to vote in national elections, according to the Washington Monthly.

For the second year in a row, Winthrop ranks among the Top 80 in the Student Voting category of the 2019 Washington Monthly College Rankings and is one of three institutions listed from South Carolina.

Winthrop faculty, staff and students teamed up to encourage participation in the 2018 midterm elections and the 2016 presidential election. Winthrop is dedicated to promoting civic engagement and teaching students to study the issues and to vote in hopes that voting will become a lifetime habit, said President Dan Mahony.

“I am proud of the collaboration that took place across the campus in encouraging voting, discussing current issues of the day and bringing local, state and national candidates to campus,” Mahony said.

this photo illustrates voter engagement efforts at Winthrop University

Student Voting Ambassadors at Winthrop University have registered more than 300 students and handed out nearly 500 “check your voter registration” cards and 250 flyers describing absentee voting procedures.

Student Voting Ambassadors have registered more than 300 students and handed out nearly 500 “check your voter registration” cards and 250 flyers describing absentee voting procedures. Campus clubs, organizations and academic departments have held more than 30 election-related events with a total attendance of more than 2,000 students.

In 2014, about one in five Winthrop students cast ballots (19.9 percent), while 58 percent voted in the 2016 presidential election.

Winthrop’s efforts resulted in the university being designated in 2017 and 2019 as a Voter Friendly Campus by the national nonpartisan organizations Campus Vote Project and NASP-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Winthrop’s high student voter turnout also earned the university a Bronze Shield from the All In Campus Democracy Challenge.

The voting push at higher education institutions is having an effect, reported the Washington Monthly. Nationwide more than 35 percent of people aged 18-29 voted in 2018—the highest midterm turnout by young Americans ever recorded.

This story is a slightly edited version of the original article on the Winthrop University website.


Berea College Leads Nation in On-Campus Sustainability Efforts

By Tim Jordan

Sullivan Foundation partner school Berea College gained the No. 1 spot in the nation for campus engagement in the newly released 2019 Sustainable Campus Index (SCI). The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) recognizes top-performing colleges and universities in 17 sustainability impact areas and overall by institution type, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) reporting system.

Berea, long known for a strong commitment to sustainability, was recognized with a perfect score for campus engagement. Since 2017, Berea College has had a “gold” STARS rating.

Related: Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Retreat helps college students spark social change in three days.

The newly released SCI report also highlights innovative and high-impact initiatives from institutions that submitted STARS reports in the most recent calendar year. The institutions and initiatives featured in this year’s SCI showcase the great work higher education institutions are doing to lead the global sustainability transformation.

Berea College is a leader in “turning the bluegrass state green,” achieving many sustainability “firsts.” It had both the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building in Kentucky (Lincoln Hall, the College’s administration building) and the first LEED-certified hotel (Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant).

Related: Berea College brings the AIR Institute to Kentucky to promote Appalachian crafts.

Berea’s campus also is home to several LEED-certified residence halls and the newly-built Margaret A. Cargill Natural Sciences and Health Building (MAC), which was awarded LEED gold certification and full-project certification by the Forest Stewardship Council. Berea College is also the home of the first Ecovillage in the commonwealth. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to assess and recognize buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance, LEED promotes environmentally and socially responsible construction and operation of green buildings to improve quality of life.

Berea offers a no-tuition college experience, where students are “free to follow their dreams after college without the burden of costly student loans.” Along with Sullivan partner school Alice Lloyd College, Berea was recognized by both USA Today and Fox Business for its efforts to help students work their way to a degree instead of dealing with the soaring tuition costs typical of today’s American colleges.

This is a slightly edited version of an original article on the Berea College website.

University of the Cumberlands Offers Free Textbooks to On-Campus Undergraduates

On-campus undergraduate students at the University of the Cumberlands will no longer have to pay for textbooks beginning in the fall of 2020, the Sullivan Foundation partner school said in a press release this week.

The new initiative, announced by University President Dr. Larry L. Cockrum, is another step toward “total price transparency and affordability” as part of The Cumberlands Commitment, which was announced in September 2018.

“The Cumberlands Commitment addresses one of the biggest problems facing college students today – affordability,” Cockrum stated. “We reduced on-campus tuition by 57 percent this year and will continue to maintain this new, lower rate for four years. Eliminating textbook costs is an additional way for Cumberlands to serve students and remove barriers to obtaining a college degree.”

Starting next fall, Cumberlands will give on-campus undergraduate students the option to participate in a textbook loan program. Participating students will receive books free of charge as long as those books are returned at the end of the semester. The program will include all fields of study, and students will have the option to purchase any books they would like to keep.

Cockrum noted that a majority of Cumberlands students are from working-class families, and many are first-generation college students who see education as a changing force for their families. Cockrum hopes the tuition reduction, and now the free textbook initiative, helps ease the burden families face when making decisions about pursuing a college education.

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Education reported that the cost of college textbooks had had almost doubled in the past 10 years, with an 88 percent jump between 2006 and 2016. Cumberlands is among a small number of universities nationwide to address this issue by offering a free textbook loan program.

“When students come to Cumberlands, they know exactly what they will pay for tuition, as well as room and board,” said Jerry Jackson, Vice President for Enrollment and Communications, “but the cost of their textbooks has been an unknown figure until they arrive and receive their class syllabi. With this new program we hope to eliminate that unknown while providing the books students need to succeed in their classes and ultimately the workforce.”

Jackson added the reminder that students have to opt in to the textbook program, and any family that wants to acquire textbooks in a traditional manner, either through the campus bookstore or other vendors, may continue to do so.

In August the University of the Cumberlands was recognized as one of the fastest-growing colleges in America and the country’s fastest growing doctoral private nonprofit institution. The university was also recognized as a College of Distinction for the 2019-20 school year.





11 Rollins College Students Selected for UN-Backed Millennium Fellowship

By Audrey St. Clair

A cohort of 11 Rollins College students has been selected to participate in the 2019 Millennium Fellowship, a prestigious leadership development program that empowers students to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on campus and in their communities. Rollins, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, was one of just 30 campuses worldwide selected to host the global pilot program in 2018.

Students from 1,209 campuses across 135 nations applied to the highly selective fellowship, which was launched last year by the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) initiative and the Millennium Campus Network (MCN).

From August through December, Rollins Millennium Fellows will take action to help implement some of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that the U.N. adopted in 2015 to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. The goals range from clean water and affordable clean energy to quality education and responsible consumption. Millennium Fellows’ projects are projected to positively impact the lives of more than 970,000 people worldwide.

In their fellowship applications, students were asked to propose a project that would advance at least one U.N. Sustainable Development Goal and one UNAI principle. Projects include everything from research and documentary filmmaking to running a social enterprise and leading campus-wide initiatives. As the faculty advisor for the Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Hub, political science professor Dan Chong will work closely with the cohort on developing and implementing their individual projects.

this photo shows the various members of the Rollins cohort

Clockwise from left: Isaac Gorres, Aditya Das, Brian Mahanpour, and Eliane Heller are among Rollins’ eleven 2019 Millennium Fellows.

“Rollins College stands out as one of the most committed university communities committed to social impact in the world,” says Sam Vaghar, MCN executive director and co-founder. “This extends from the students to the faculty and administration that strongly advocate for them. I have personally seen the extraordinary passion, commitment, and follow-through present in this community, and it is exciting and fitting to see Rollins selected to host Millennium Fellows on campus for another year.”

In addition to Millennium Fellowship sessions on campus this year, there will be webinars with sector leaders from the United Nations and the Gates Foundation along with collaboration from Howard W. Buffett, whose new book, Social Value Investing, has provided content for the fellowship curriculum.

“Our Millennium Fellows will leverage their Rollins education by engaging in global challenges such as educational inequality, sustainability, human rights, and access to health,” says Micki Meyer, Lord Family Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs-Community. “The U.N. Sustainability Goals provide students with a framework to direct their commitment to change, and we’re excited to see how they learn and grow from this leadership opportunity.”

Rollins’ 2019 Millennium Fellows are:

  • Farahana Cajuste ’21
  • Brittany Chaney ’21
  • Aditya Das ’22
  • Wyatt Deihl ’21
  • Jiayi Ding ’21
  • Isaac Gorres ’20
  • Eliane Heller ’21
  • Dahlia Lilleslatten ’20
  • Brian Mahanpour ’20
  • Brunella Roncetti ’21
  • Ye Wong ’21

This story originally appeared on the Rollins College website.