Letter from the president

Thank you, to our students, alumni, and friends. This is the ninth issue of Engage, and and I couldn’t be more excited for you to read it. This issue is truly broad—it features our students, our schools, our alumni, and our faculty—resulting in a magazine that really explores the full spectrum of the Foundation.

Issue nine features young people who have achieved much but still put the needs of others first—like Deterrian Shackelford of the University of Mississippi—as well as older Sullivan alums like Jewel Bell, who received her Sullivan Award decades ago but began her journey as a servant leader decades even before that.

The Foundation is looking ahead toward further expansion and diversification. It’s an exciting time for all of us. However, even as we look forward, we cannot ignore the things, and people, we’ve left behind. Within the last several months, the Foundation lost Clay Crouch, a descendant of Algernon Sydney Sullivan and a longtime member of the Board of Trustees. Clay’s devotion to this organization should stand as an inspiration to us all, and we remember him fondly. A brief obituary is included in this edition of Engage, on page 15.

This issue also welcomes a relative newcomer to the Sullivan network—Campbell University—with an extensive article on that school’s efforts, which reminds us that the Foundation always has new ground to cover. I hope we do so, and do it well.

Thank you for reading, and please stay in touch,

Stephan L. McDavid,

President

A global focus

Rhodes College student Seabelo John thinks big and helps his peers confront international issues

Rhodes College, with its gothic stone buildings, wooded environs, and ideal location in the heart of midtown Memphis, Tennessee, can feel like an enclosed, protected oasis in the middle of its urban environment. Rhodes, however, is a Sullivan school, and the Sullivan spirit is strong on campus, which means students think decidedly outside the bubble.

One such outward-looking Rhodes student is Seabelo John, class of 2019. John was a top student throughout grade school in his native home of Kanye, Botswana, in Southern Africa, but making good grades has never been quite enough for the globally conscious business major.

“We are all privileged in some aspect in our lives, and so we need to use the platforms we have to help our communities and the world at large,” he says.

With the help of the youth engagement manager at the United Nations Foundation, John founded a UN campus chapter—Rhodes GenUN—in 2015 to host service projects and forums as well as lend visibility to the UN’s goals and issues. It was in September 2015 that UN countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all, with each goal having specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

That same year, John attended the annual UN-sponsored Millennium Campus Conference at Howard University in Washington, DC, and brought back ideas for the Rhodes chapter. As a result, Rhodes GenUN hosted an international flag ceremony celebrating diversity on campus, and the following year, members began tutoring and mentoring refugees in Memphis through the Refugee Empowerment Program. In October of this year, the group hosted UN speaker Rajita Sanji on campus who spoke on “Global Goals, Local Leaders.”

Jenna Gilley, Seabelo John, Congressman Steve Cohen, Austin Wall, Atticus Wolfe, and Brandon Johnson

John, who also is pursuing a minor in urban community health, serves as a 2017 Global Health Fellow for the United Nations Foundation.

“As part of that fellowship, I have developed an international youth leadership program at Rhodes that will send about 10 student leaders to the UN headquarters in New York City for the annual United Nations Global Engagement Summit every year,” he says. “These student leaders will participate in a forum alongside community leaders, academics, and students from all around the world discussing global issues.”

In November, John organized a panel of speakers discussing general community health in the Mid-South; global health; and health issues related to gender and sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, and people with disabilities. He also published a guest commentary in the Memphis Daily News asking the question “Should Memphians be concerned about local health care?” John’s local concerns are the high numbers in categories of infant mortality, obesity, poverty, and crime.

“I think people truly do care, but simply do not know about all the issues,” he says. “For example, I wish people knew about the wonderful successes of the United Nations, including the increase from 2 percent to 53 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa having protective bed nets and that in the last ten years, polio cases have dropped from 250,000 to only 37 cases, thanks to the efforts of the UN.”

Recently, John and other Rhodes student leaders Jenna Gilley, Austin Wall, Brandon Johnson, and Atticus Wolfe voiced their concerns to Congressman Steve Cohen, who represents the 9th District of Tennessee.

“We submitted a healthcare petition urging him to support local minority health care and funding for the United Nations’ global campaigns to eradicate polio and malaria,” says John.

John says he hopes to bring more awareness to local and global issues.

“Rhodes has student leaders who have the potential to be international leaders, and I want to facilitate that through the support of the United Nations Foundation,” he says.

This article was adapted from a piece written by Meg Jerit that originally appeared on Rhodes College’s news site. To read the original piece or learn more about Rhodes, visit rhodes.edu/stories.

Birth of the SOUP

Campbell student and Ignite retreat attendee sparks innovation on campus

Diane Ford, a 2017 graduate of Campbell University, attended her first Ignite retreat in 2015. It was truly a transformational experience for her.

“I really enjoyed my time there,” she says. “They really gave me the tools that I needed to start the project. I was able to find out what the focus of my passion is. And my passion is people—I really like watching other people achieve their dreams.”

Campbell students including Diane Ford (top row center), Daphanie Doane (top row second from right), and Kelly Ruth Fuqua (top row far right)

Upon her return to campus, Ford was anxious to find an outlet for that newly identified passion. As president of Campbell’s Social Entrepreneurship Club, she had an obvious platform to use. What she needed was a specific idea, a way to help her fellow students realize their goals. That was where the SOUP—a concept she learned about from the club’s faculty sponsor Dan Maynard (who was a Sullivan Faculty Fellow in 2015-2016)—came in.

“I brought the Detroit SOUP crowdfunding project to our campus,” says Ford. “With the help of my friends and my club members, we were able to start a micro-granting pitch competition and then incorporate it into the community.”

The SOUP concept was built to serve an urban area where high poverty rates call for creative, outside-the-box solutions. Though Buies Creek and greater Harnett County, North Carolina, where Campbell is located, look very different from Detroit on the surface, Ford saw the same need for innovation all around her.

Using the Detroit model, the Social Entrepreneurship Club planned their own SOUP, on the Campbell campus, for November 2016. Hot soup was served up to feed the crowd, creative ideas were pitched from the stage, and helpful critiques were offered by all. The event was a great success, and participants—whether they won the grant or not—got a lot out of the experience.

Victoria Robinson pitched a life coaching business at the inaugural SOUP, one that continues to grow today.

“With SOUP, I was able to participate as a competitor and share the business that I wanted to initiate within the community,” says Robinson. “I also did some amazing networking with business owners—individuals that can help you start your business and give you information on how to partner with other agencies in the community.”

Fellow student Justin Holmes agrees. His idea was one that affected the people right around him—his peers on campus. He pitched a ride service on campus that caters specifically to students that don’t own cars.

“The environment was so friendly,” says Holmes. “It wasn’t necessarily like you were in a competition. It was more like you were in a think tank and you were giving your thoughts to help the people around you. People were open to receive that kind of information. It wasn’t critical at all. The soup was good, and the vibes were right.

A second SOUP, even more well-received, took place in April 2017, just before Ford’s graduation. She handed off the program to the incoming club president, and it has continued under the new leadership. Ford is applying to law school, and has lots of future projects in mind—results of a passion she discovered at that first retreat in 2015.

“I just want to say thanks to the whole team at Sullivan for giving me the tools that I needed to go out, do good, and become a changemaker,” she says.

Cooking Up Social Change

Campbell University nurtures students to become changemakers of the highest order

Daphanie Doane (left) and Kelly Fuqua are Trust and Wealth majors in Campbell’s Lundy-Fetterman School of Business. Vice president and president, respectively, of the Social Entrepreneurship Club, they both plan to apply their education to social engagement and change.

Campbell University, a growing campus that has anchored Buies Creek, North Carolina, since its 1887 founding as Buies Creek Academy, didn’t have to become a Sullivan School to lead its students into lives of service. The institution’s mission is “to graduate students with exemplary academic and professional skills who are prepared for purposeful lives and meaningful service.”

But Campbell’s focus on civic responsibility converges perfectly with the Sullivan Foundation’s support of changemakers intent on improving lives and outlooks.

Campbell’s more than 6,200 students prepare to be servant leaders in disciplines from business to medicine, sports management to engineering, divinity to homeland security, to name just a few. The student body logs an average of 80,000 service hours yearly in projects such as an annual spring Inasmuch Day of Service and a Mustard Seed Community Garden that donates produce to a local food pantry.

Ready to ignite

Campbell’s longtime focus on service today aims directly at the needs of underserved communities–globally, nationally, and especially in rural areas. Intent on building on Campbell’s history with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation, the office of its president, Dr. J. Bradley Creed, last August issued a University-wide memo calling on all undergraduate deans to nominate their most promising changemakers to attend the October 2017 Ignite retreat in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Not surprisingly, Kelly Fuqua and Daphanie Doane, the president and vice-president of Campbell’s Social Entrepreneurship Club, respectively, were among the 11 Campbell Camels who attended the retreat. Both were attending Ignite for the second time. They went to Ignite the first time to define social entrepreneurship for themselves.

Students enjoy their meal together while they discuss their votes

“Last year I attended the Ignite retreat to truly get a better understanding of what social entrepreneurship is and what it means to be a social entrepreneur,” says Doane. “It really opened my eyes into the world of social change and what I could do to better my local community.”

This time around, Fuqua and Doane went to Ignite to hone their skills at organizing, networking, fundraising, and promoting social change programs on campus. Involved in myriad projects and carrying hefty course loads, both name Campbell SOUP as their “pet project” and want to boost student participation for the next event.

Hungry for innovation

Students ladle up bowls of soup as they prepare to hear pitches at the Campbell SOUP competition

Based on a Detroit SOUP community peer-to-peer funding model launched in 2010, Doane describes Campbell SOUP as “a micro-granting dinner that provides the opportunity for local start-ups, non-profits, or anyone with an idea to win funds to support their project.” Attendees pay $5 at the door for a meal of bread, salad, soup, a drink, and a voting ballot. They listen to presenters’ five-minute pitches, then vote to fund the most deserving, winner-take-all project.

SOUP at Campbell was started in 2016 by the Social Entrepreneurship club’s then-president Diane Ford, who also attended two Ignite retreats, including one with Doane and Fuqua. After hosting successful events in November 2016 and April 2017, Ford graduated in May and handed over the reins of the club, and the SOUP, to her friends.

Attendees of the most recent SOUP came to Campbell’s Lynch Auditorium and voted Buddy Backpack of Angier the winner, providing the organization with the proceeds of the evening, matched by the Campbell Office of Spiritual Life. Buddy Backpack provides low-income elementary schoolers with nutritious food over school-year weekends and holidays, and the Campbell event is funding this for one student for more than a year.

Finding inspiration in service

2019 BBA/MBA candidate Fuqua is driven by a desire to see renewed hope and faith carried out in action. She volunteered with New Hanover County Teen Court all through high school, an experience that influenced her chosen career path.

“I want to pursue juvenile justice, among other things,” she says. “To change the way younger generations view legal systems, authorities, and general respect.”

Doane’s changemaking resolve was strengthened last summer working as a mentor for the Campbell Youth Theological Institute, which focused on social change. She worked with the Five N Two food pantry in Harnett County as well as the Metanoia Community in Charleston, South Carolina.

“It was amazing to see the projects they had set in place and had accomplished to better their community,” says Doane.

Before the spring Ignite retreat in Raleigh, North Carolina, Doane and Fuqua will accompany Professor Scott Kelly, Instructor of Business & Entrepreneurship, to the 19th Annual Social Enterprise Conference presented by students at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School. And then there’s program planning–including a beefed-up Campbell SOUP–for the University’s 12th annual Business Week event April 2-6, 2018. Fuqua and Doane were instrumental in shaping the Social Entrepreneurship theme of the weeklong event.

In Memoriam

The Sullivan Community mourns the loss of Clay Crouch

The Sullivan Foundation lost a long-time friend, a steadfast ally, and a (quite literal) member of its family. John Clayton Crouch, known to his friends as Clay, died on November 17, 2017, at his home on Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. He was 61 years old.

Crouch was an actual descendant of Algernon Sydney Sullivan and served as a member of the Foundation’s board of trustees for more than a decade, from April 2007 until his death. A deft businessman, he had a long and successful career, primarily in the global food manufacturing industry. He worked in international business development with McKee Foods Corporation for the last 16 years of his life.

In addition to his business acumen, Crouch was blessed with a wide array of gifts and talents. He was a designer, gardener, builder, landscaper, impressionist artist, genealogist, pianist, sailor, equestrian, party planner and host, and storyteller.

In true Sullivan spirit, Crouch was also a devoted servant who trained his sights on the children of Haiti for his outreach work. He had an active role in the Outreach Haiti Committee which works to educate and improve the lives of children in the St. John the Evangelist School in Petit Harpon Haiti. His involvement included development work in Chattanooga and construction efforts on site in Haiti.

Crouch’s other service passion was his love for the Sullivan Foundation, whose mission he supported tirelessly.

“Clay was nothing but positive energy,” says Foundation president Steve McDavid. “He was enthusiastically supportive of everything we did. Obviously, as an actual descendant of Algernon Sydney Sullivan, his relationship to this organization was a special, very personal one. He will be sorely missed, but the many positive contributions he made to the Foundation will live on long after his passing.”

Crouch’s family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, friends of Clay Crouch make donations to either the Foundation or to the Outreach Haiti Committee.

Did You Know?

In between his two terms in office, President Grover Cleveland helped start the Sullivan Foundation

Grover Cleveland
*June 7, 1903

Most Americans have at least heard of President Grover Cleveland. Many are probably aware that he served as both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States—the only holder of that office ever to serve two nonconsecutive terms. Fewer still know that he presided over the admission of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington into the union as states or that he is the only president ever to be married while in office, inside the White House.

What even fewer know about Cleveland is the tiny footnote to his story that he was among the 77 men on the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Memorial Committee.

Cleveland, a Democrat, won his first term in 1884, defeating Republican James G. Blaine. In his 1888 reelection campaign, however, he lost the electoral college to Benjamin Harrison (though he can lay claim to popular vote victories in all three of his presidential runs). Upon leaving the White House, First Lady (and Cleveland’s still-new wife) Frances Cleveland said to a staff member, “Now, Jerry, I want you to take good care of all the furniture and ornaments in the house, for I want to find everything just as it is now, when we come back again.” When asked when she would return, she responded, “We are coming back four years from today.”

Frances Cleveland was right. Cleveland won his second term in 1892, defeating Harrison handily in both the popular vote and the electoral college. But what does a president, expecting to return to office after a four-year hiatus, do with his brief stint as a private citizen?

According to history, the answer for Cleveland is a little bit of private law practice, a great deal of fishing, and serving, beginning in 1890, on the Sullivan Memorial Committee, the forerunner to what is now known as the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation.

Time well spent.

A Treasure in King’s Crown

A 1980 Sullivan Award Recipient reflects on seven decades of service

For 66 years, King University in Bristol, Tennessee, has had a treasure in its crown. Fittingly, her name is Jewel.

Enter through the front door of the King Building, which houses the library and administrative offices, and you’ll find Jewel Bell peering over her desk, likely smiling. Don’t be deceived. Come to see the president without an appointment? She’ll be pleased to make a first-time acquaintance, or delighted to see you if you’re an old friend—but nobody gets into the president’s office without her approval.

Not much gets past this 88-year-old executive administrative assistant for communications. She has navigated personal and professional challenges with a generous and dignified heart, the kind of spirit often recognized with a Sullivan Award. Bell was nominated for and received the award in 1980 and has continued to exemplify its principles by constantly uplifting others.

Last year, King University celebrated its 150th anniversary, along with the inauguration of a new president, Alexander Whitaker. Whitaker is the ninth president Bell has welcomed to campus.

“He says I’m like sunshine to him,” she says.

In true form, however, Bell has made it known that the present location of her desk—a spot she’s occupied since 1990—is where she’d like it to stay.

“I said if you all move me again, I’m just going to roll on out of here like a basketball,” she says.

From Maid to Matriarch

Jewel Bell handles incoming calls in 1981

Bell’s strong work ethic was instilled in her by her mother, Hattie Howard, who worked for 89 of her 95 years. Bell herself started her first job at age 11, babysitting. She began her career at King in September of 1952 as a temporary maid in Bristol Hall, which at the time was a women’s dormitory.

That initial, two-week job became permanent, following an offer by then-president R.T.L. Liston. When a new telephone switchboard was installed on the campus in 1961—in the midst of the civil rights movement—Bell was asked to take charge of it.

“In 1961, several men came to campus to oversee the finalization of the switchboard,” she says. “When they finished, their supervisor asked the dean of women who would be operating it. She told him I would. He looked over at me in surprise and said, ‘We don’t have negroes operating switchboards.’ She told him, ‘Mrs. Bell will not only be an operator, she will be a supervisor. We are a private Christian institution, so we do as we please.’ And that was that!”

After training on the switchboard with the United Telephone Company, Bell moved to Parks Hall, the university’s new women’s dorm, where she served as the supervisor for both the switchboard and the building. Her understanding of King and the Bristol community, as well as her prime location in the dorm’s lobby, offered her the opportunity to interact with—and keep an eye on—King’s students. She worked to raise her own young children while simultaneously serving as mother and mentor to dozens more, offering comfort and guidance where needed.

Bell (center) at King’s 2017 commencement
ceremony.

Throughout her tenure, the world has seen numerous changes and upheavals. But Bell’s steadfast attitude and loving heart has remained steady. Today, she has three grown children, seven grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. She can also claim thousands of students who have come to her for advice, assistance, support and encouragement.

“Last year, the students who graduated in 1958 returned for Dogwood Weekend and invited me to attend the dinner with them,” says Bell. “They felt like I was a part of their class. Although I couldn’t attend classes in those days, the girls who worked for me on the switchboard and the kids all treated me as if I was the same. One precious young man who’s now a lawyer came back and gave me a hug. He told me, ‘I wanted you to go to class with us.’ I didn’t know that. You never know what’s in someone’s heart.”

Although Bell never participated in classes at King, her son, Lawrence Jr., became the first African-American student to attend in 1966.

“Whatever problems the students have had over the years, I’ve tried to help them,” she says. “One girl locked her keys in her car and called me at midnight. I took care of that. Another young woman who worked for me became pregnant and needed maternity clothes. I took care of that. A brand-new freshman took the bus all the way from Florida to come to King. He arrived at midnight with no way to get to campus and called our answering service. The call came to me and I took care of that, too. He told me, ‘I’d never been to Bristol and I don’t know if I’d have made it here without you!’

A Lifetime of Service from a Tennessee Colonel

The King community, along with residents of the region, can attest to the positive difference Bell makes. For decades she has devoted her time and efforts to the American Red Cross and the Slater Community Center. She has worked at Healing Hands Health Center since the clinic first opened its doors. She has served on the YWCA Bristol’s board of directors since the 1960s, lending her voice and the strength of her experience to the empowerment of women and the elimination of racism. While her children were in school she served on the PTA, and also served as the first African-American PTA council president. She continues to volunteer at the American Red Cross and is a longtime member of Lee Street Baptist Church.

Her unwavering dedication to King’s students, along with her longstanding devotion to her work, have earned her multiple awards. In addition to the Sullivan Award, she is an honoree of the YWCA’s Tribute to Women Program, has a lane on the King campus named after her, and was honored with the establishment of the Jewel H. Bell scholarship in 2007. The fund goes to help students who, as she describes it, “have fallen through the cracks and need a little extra help to stay in school,” a purpose that’s dear to her heart.

Most recently, she received the university’s first-ever Lifetime Service Award, presented during alumni weekend in spring 2017. At the same time she was also declared an Aide-de-Camp by Governor Bill Haslam, an honor that carries with it the title of Tennessee Colonel.

President Whitaker, who before his career in higher education was an active-duty Navy captain, says Bell outranks him.

“She is senior to us all in years and stature and in the affection with which she is held,” he says.  “Jewel Bell is the one person who more than any other—including the president—represents the university to its students, alumni, faculty, staff and members of the community.”

A Legacy of Love

As King enters its 151st year, Bell continues to serve as a guiding voice for the students, faculty and administration alike.

“To see where this school started and where we are today, it’s mesmerizing,” she says. “We have had so many moments of rich history and we are truly blessed to have come this far.”

Her mission of caring for others remains as strong as ever, and she’s grateful for the community that cares for her in return.

“My husband, Lawrence, and I were married for 50 years until his death,” says Bell. “My own children left years ago to pursue their careers, but this is still my home and the students are my family. Some of my family call me Gran, some call me GG, JB, Miss Jewel, plain Jewel, Mrs. Bell or Ma Bell. I prefer the young people and I love them. I feel like God has enabled me to be here so long because of them, and I believe I’ve made an impact.”

Bell receives King’s Lifetime Service Award from university President Alexander Whitaker

Jolly Good Fellows

The Sullivan Foundation’s Faculty Fellows program spreads service and social entrepreneurship skills to professors, then students

The fourth class of Sullivan’s Faculty Fellows is currently undertaking its fellowship year. While the program continues to evolve, the core mission has remained the same since its inception: provide support and structure to faculty members with a desire to incorporate service learning or social entrepreneurship into their teaching and/or research while at the same time allowing the flexibility needed for creative ideas to thrive. Just four years in, positive results abound. In this issue of Engage, we take a look at four fellows and discover how they used their fellowships and how their fellowships changed the way they teach and learn.

Casey Dexter

Casey Dexter is a developmental psychologist and works in the psychology department at Berry College in Georgia. In 2014, the provost of the college approached him about possibly being a member of the inaugural class of Sullivan Faculty Fellows. While he was intrigued, he wasn’t sure he was a natural fit for the program.

“My first introduction to social entrepreneurship was probably with a business model like Tom’s [shoes],” says Dexter. “This buy-one-give-one philosophy. And really that was about as much as I’d thought about it. Okay, that’s cool. That’s great. A business that gives back.”

Being an inquisitive person (not to mention a junior faculty member eager to please), however, Dexter felt giving it a try was worth his while. He began to look more extensively into what social entrepreneurship was all about, and, at the same time, what the Sullivan Foundation was all about.

“I was impressed to learn how long they’d been supporting civic engagement and community service,” says Dexter. “Not being from the Southeast originally, I wasn’t aware of the impact they’d had in the region for such a long time.”

Dexter began thinking about social entrepreneurship much more intentionally and started to search for any connections he could find between developmental psychology and social innovation.

During his fellowship, Dexter developed a course called “Social Innovation and the Psychology of Poverty,” designed to introduce students to the potential causes and consequences of poverty.

“We spend some time talking about psychology from a developmental standpoint, we spend some time talking about it socially,” says Dexter. “So, ‘what are the social situations and contexts that result or lead to poverty?’ We talk about it from a mental health standpoint. And then we dig into the nitty gritty of, ‘now we’ve gone over a bunch of ways to attack poverty, let’s come up with some really promising ideas of how you’re going to go about doing that.’”

Students developed proposals and learned the process hands-on. Their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and Dexter’s own reflection on the experience reveals he ended up having a wonderful experience, too, despite his early misgivings.

“I think that the greatest impact that the Sullivan Foundation and the fellowship had on me is just a greater awareness of ways to connect with college students,” he says. “This crosses outside of just the teacher-student relationship. This becomes something enmeshed in their lives. It becomes something that they hold very close to their morals, their ideals, their values that provide their compass as a person. That’s a whole different way to connect with students.”

Christine Schott

Dr. Christine Schott teaches medieval literature and creative writing at Erskine College, and focuses her academic research on medieval manuscript culture in northern Europe. She is also deeply passionate about social justice and community engagement. Schott was interested in finding ways to connect her teaching and her passion, which weren’t an obvious fit at first glance, when she encountered the Sullivan Foundation.

Soon after, she became a Sullivan Faculty Fellow and began thinking about how to use the opportunity to make writing and community service a joint endeavor.

“I am very interested in how the ordinary things we do in our lives can benefit both us and our community,” says Schott. “I am interested in the use of creative writing to raise awareness of underprivileged or underrepresented populations.  Once they are on people’s radar in a positive way, it is easier to advocate for social justice as well as for business solutions that include and benefit them.”

Schott’s idea: use the talents of her writing students to share the stories of a population that’s too often forgotten. In this particular case, that led her and her students to a local retirement community where students engaged with, and interviewed, the residents to learn about their lives. The students then took their research and composed essays about the residents.

The final step in the process was to bring the essays back to share. The residents at the community benefitted from the friendships they forged with young students as well as the opportunity to collaborate on an artistic undertaking with them—a rare opportunity for too many seniors.

“One of the gentlemen interviewed had passed away suddenly the day before,” says Schott. “The activities coordinator was able to share the essay written about this man with his family, and so, unintentionally, this student had written a eulogy of sorts from his interview, which was given as a source of consolation to his loved ones.”

Though Schott’s fellowship has ended, she continues to teach the course she developed with the help of the Sullivan, and it has proven very popular among her students. For Schott, it’s opened up a whole new way of thinking about structuring her teaching.

“My courses are very classroom-based for the most part, but with this project, I can see the immediate impact of going off-campus and connecting with the local community,” she says. “There is definitely a market for contact between the residents and the college students, and potential for other endeavors that bring the two together.”

Dan Maynard

Dan Maynard is a Business Librarian at Campbell University. His project as a fellow was to lead the effort to bring Campbell into the fold as an official Sullivan school. With the blessing and support of the university’s president, J. Bradley Creed, Maynard convened a visioning committee that actively facilitated campus-wide engagement with Sullivan programs and partnerships with other Sullivan Schools.

Maynard credits Sullivan programming with giving him the tools he needed to help students get started. He recalls one Ignite workshop he observed led by facilitator Alan Webb and saw how impactful it was on the students.

“What I came back with was a very valuable way to get novices to create a rudimentary business plan,” says Maynard. “In about 45 minutes Alan had his “entrepreneurship sucks” students charting out a scope of work, resource allocations, and a timeline to implement their idea. It was quick, it was simple, it was intuitive, it was fun, and it was devastatingly effective.”

Rhonda Waddell

As a professor in Saint Leo University’s Department of Social Work, Dr. Rhonda Waddell has long been committed to incorporating service and social entrepreneurship training into her work. Prior to her involvement with the Sullivan Foundation, she helped establish two student-run clinics, staffed by health profession students, for the poor and homeless in Gainesville, Florida—one for primary care and the other for mental health services.

Waddell’s focus in her teaching and research is in health and social justice. These topics are natural ones to study in a social work classroom. They’re also areas that suggest engagement outside the classroom, which is part of what prompted Waddell to partner with Sullivan as a Faculty Fellow and create the course Social Justice and Social Entrepreneurship.

Waddell, a self-described animal lover, saw an opportunity to bring together people and animals in need to learn and create positive change at the same time with a multi-layered project that has received rave reviews from students.

The centerpiece of the course was a hands-on project that brought her undergraduate students to a local animal shelter to help them get adopted 10 hard-to-adopt animals. In the process, they learned about the financial burdens social ventures like animal shelters face and how to develop a business plan in the face of those burdens.

There was a second layer to the project as well. The students took it on in cooperation with a class of local high-risk middle and high school students. All the students learned and worked together, and the undergrads had the chance to act as role models to the younger students.

“They truly enjoyed working with the local high school students that too often get written off as the ‘bad’ kids,” says Waddell. “They learned these are great kids that may have had a bad hand dealt them and are learning to deal with challenges at a very young age. It was a great learning experience for all of us.”

Waddell has already begun discussions within her department about the possibility of taking the foundation she built with her course and turning it into a full certificate program. The Foundation’s validation, just as much as the funds provided, has helped her to carry on and expand her efforts as a changemaker.

“The Sullivan Foundation fellowship has helped to inspire and broaden my belief that all people are more than they think they are,” says Waddell. “Each and every one of us can and should stretch ourselves to do more to better our local and global communities. When we collaborate and care about each other we can only bring about positive difference in the lives of all.”

What You Really Need in Life

2015 Sullivan Award recipient Deterrian Shackelford uses education, celebrity status to impact children’s lives

Sullivan Awards are given to two different types of people: graduating seniors and community members—people on the college’s faculty or staff or even friends of the college with no official affiliation. Deterrian Shackelford (better known to friends and fans as “D.T.”) received his Award in 2015 in sort of a gray area between the two. He was a student at the University of Mississippi at the time, but he’d already finished undergrad three years earlier and had since earned a master’s degree with an eye toward a doctorate.

And while Shackelford certainly exemplified the humble servant’s heart recognized by Sullivan, he had a hard time keeping a low profile. He had been a starting linebacker for the university’s beloved football team and spent many Saturdays playing on national television around the Southeastern Conference.

Shackelford (center) receives the Sullivan Award along with alum Darryail Whittington (right) and then university Chancellor Dan Jones

Shackelford’s accomplishments came even as he missed two years of football with a torn ACL requiring two separate surgeries. He filled the void left by football by finding ways to serve others. Using his local celebrity status in Oxford, Mississippi, he brightened people’s days at a local nursing home and a children’s hospital. He volunteered to read to young children in schools and worked in a food pantry. He even spread the servant spirit among his teammates, leading them on mission trips to Panama and Haiti.

Once his football career ended, Shackelford knew his real work had only just begun. He started a career with the university’s athletics foundation. But Shackelford’s passion was still service, and he’s continued in that work by speaking to student groups to motivate them to do good work and build good character.

Shackelford takes questions from students during one of his many school visits

“A lot of these kids are attracted to the sport of football,” he says. “It’s just popular. But I want to show them that once you’re done with your athletic career, you can continue to be impactful in people’s lives. That’s something that sticks. A lot of them want to know how you played and who you tackled and who you sacked, but more kids look at what you do once you’re done with that, and, for me, that’s what matters the most. I don’t care about how many tackles I had. That doesn’t matter now. What matters are these kids. They are the now.”

Shackelford’s talks encourage kids to building strong character, overcome adversity, and develop kindness and empathy. He both discourages bullying and teaches kids how to respond to unkind words or actions. He travels all over Mississippi and to neighboring states to spread his positive message. It requires a lot of time and effort on top of the demands of his job, but he feeds off the energy in the room.

Shackelford celebrates a tackle in a game
against the University of Alabama

“At one point, somebody was able to instill in me morals and values and character and the things that you really need in life,” says Shackelford. “For me, this is about giving back. The money, the popularity, I’d trade all that stuff to be able to come in here every day and speak to these youths and really make an impact on their lives.”

All that practice, as well as his special gift for connecting with children, has made him excellent at his chosen second vocation.

“Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Shackelford says.

When it comes to caring, Shackelford sets a high bar with his example.