Letter from the President

As always, thank you to our students, to our faculty, to our alumni, and to our friends for taking a look at the new issue of Engage. This marks our tenth edition and our fifth year of producing this magazine, and I hope it’s been as enjoyable for you to peruse as it has been for us to create. Nothing brings the staff at the Sullivan Foundation more pride than digging into what our schools are up to in service and social entrepreneurship.

As I scan through the pages in this issue, I notice a trend. Building community is a crucial part of creating a better world, and our schools are working hard to create supportive, innovative communities that serve on their campuses and in their communities.

At the same time, the Foundation is at the dawn of a new day in which we hope to broaden our own community building efforts—expanding our media outreach, increasing our programming, and strengthening the ties between Sullivan Award and Scholarship recipients, alumni, and friends. We all work better when we work together. The stories in this issue are an inspiration for us as we continue to improve and become an ever more beneficial presence in the lives of students.

I’m also proud to feature several schools in this issue that we’ve never written about before. It’s amazing that we can fill ten magazines with stories and still have more schools left to write about.

But that’s the nature of the Sullivan family. Thanks for reading, and please stay in touch,

Stephan L. McDavid,

Letter from the President

Hello to all, and welcome to the 11th issue of Engage. As always, it’s an exciting time here at the Sullivan Foundation. Our Ignite retreats and faculty summits saw record attendance in 2018, and we’ll continue to expand our offerings in 2019. Our faculty fellows have used our resources to do amazing things on campuses and around the world. And our award winners are inspirational people making real, tangible changes in lives and communities.

You’ll meet some of these outstanding people inside the pages of this issue. Whether it’s Randolph-Macon College travelling to support a community in Guatemala, award recipient Cindy Jackson’s inspiring work to treat burn victims all over South America, or the quietly inspirational life of late alumnus Ray Bottom, who dedicated himself to his own community for decades at Randolph-Macon—it’s the work of people that make this community the amazing thing it is.

As always, we want to hear your stories, so feel free to send us one if you have something you wish to share. We might just be able to feature it here or on our website.

Speaking of the website, we’ve revamped it with a new design and new features to make it more informative and useful for members of the Sullivan family. Drop by and take a look when you get a chance. It’s at sullivanfdn.org.

Thanks as always for your interest in the work we do and for doing the outstanding work that you do. You continue to make us proud.

Stephan L. McDavid,


The world inside a house

Sullivan school Washington and Lee combines international dialogue and service for a unique student experience


A Service House student chops meat while working at the Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee, a project that reuses food that would otherwise go to waste. The CKWL is a primary service project for house residents.

During a snowball fight last year at Washington and Lee University’s Global Service House, the camaraderie of students could be heard in their laughter.

“It was really exciting, because a lot of us had never played in snow before,” says Sofia Sequeira, a native Costa Rican and the house’s former resident adviser. “It really made us bond and become close friends.”

A novel idea

Students goof around while carving pumpkins

The facility opened in fall 2012 and houses 17 students—approximately 60 percent international students and 40 percent domestic students.

In addition to bringing international and domestic students together, the house unites students that care about service. When Larry Boetsch, director of W&L’s Center for International Education, was researching the university’s Global Learning Initiative, he discovered that a high percentage of international students volunteer in the local community.

“What satisfies me the most is that the students themselves have really taken the initiative to make this work,” says Boetsch. “They’re a terrific group of students, and they understand exactly what we are trying to do. We haven’t set any rules or guidelines with regards to the way the house functions; the students have done it on their own. So they are responsible for its success.”

Bringing it all home

Sofia Sequeira

The experience of living there is as illuminating for domestic students as it is for international students.

“I have learned more about the cultures of other students and about the world than I ever thought I could without actually leaving the United States,” says New Jersey native Maya Epelbaum.

Trevin Ivory from Oklahoma City agrees. He and his housemate, Mohammed Adudayyeh, who is a Palestinian from the West Bank, have formed a friendship and started a dialogue.

“Mohammed and I have had many discussions about the differences in our cultures,” he says. “He’s Muslim and I’m Christian, so we’ve talked about the differences between our two religions. We all know each other and we all like each other, so it’s a very fun time. It also allows me to interact with people I wouldn’t normally be able to, such as students from Brazil or Germany.”

Serving side by side

In addition to learning from each other and serving together, students in the house find time to have fun

The students have provided their peers with new opportunities by introducing each other to their personal volunteer projects.

“A lot of students are really committed to community service, and they invite other students to their activities, such as volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, recycling, or tutoring children in Lexington,” says Sequeira.

The facility is, in fact, a tangible manifestation of W&L’s Global Learning Strategy.

“The students in the Global Service House today are a special group,” Boetsch says. “Honestly, I think it is an achievement of which we should be very proud and something which, in terms of the whole global learning initiative, is absolutely essential.”

This article is an edited version of a piece that appeared originally on W&L’s website. For more W&L news, visit columns.wlu.edu.

Sullivan Flashback

The Sullivans were art collectors and donators, and their collection lives on at Vanderbilt University

George and Mary Mildred Sullivan in 1906

After the death of Algernon Sydney Sullivan in 1887, Mary Mildred Sullivan and the couples’ son, George, went through a long period of bereavement—Mary Mildred Sullivan barely made it through the funeral, and went on to wear black for the rest of her life.

As was the family tradition, however, the mother and son team eventually began looking for ways to serve the public. Perhaps, in addition to their natural inclination to serve, pouring themselves into work was a way of coping—doing exactly what Algernon Sydney Sullivan would have done.

Mary Mildred Sullivan was a southerner, and her continued concern for the recovery of her home after the Civil War led her to find ways to contribute to its wellbeing.

Seated Woman, a 19th century oil painting by French artist Jules Adolphe Goupil, was donated to Peabody College by the Sullivans and remains at Vanderbilt University as part of the Sullivan Collection

Among her many endeavors, she supported and solicited donations for the Southern Industrial Education Association, established to aid so-called industrial schools, which provided basic education in areas in the South where public education still didn’t exist.

At the same time, George Sullivan had been building a vast art collection, visiting galleries in between his periodic illnesses (George, like his father, had poor luck with health). He collected prints, artworks, rare books, and historical documents.

While the Sullivans may have been great lovers of art for themselves, they were more interested in how their collection could be of service to others, and they did not hold it privately for long. They began disbursing their holdings in gifts to colleges and libraries.

Mary Mildred Sullivan in her black mourning attire after the death of Algernon Sydney Sullivan

The first major donation was to the George Peabody College for Teachers, which still exists today as part of Vanderbilt University in Nashville. A friend of Mary Mildred Sullivan’s who was also a graduate of the school told her that art teachers there were in need of a study collection. The Sullivans talked it over and quickly agreed, with George proclaiming, “we have found a splendid outlet for our desire to aid students.”

All told, the Sullivans donated some 10,000 works of art to various institutions.

Peabody College flourished into one of the finest schools of education in the nation in the early part of the 20th century. Its on-site high school, where aspiring teachers did their student teaching, was among the first Southern high schools to be desegregated in the early 1960s.

Peabody College’s main library as it appears today

By the late 1970s, however, Peabody had fallen on hard times, with a financially untenable situation. Fortunately, a solution was found as the school merged with its across-the-street neighbor, Vanderbilt University, where it remains to this day as the Peabody College of Education and Human Development.

It is routinely cited by U.S. News and World Report as the top graduate school of education in America.

The Sullivan Collection lives on at Vanderbilt today as well, with 86 catalogued pieces of art (curators believe there are many more that have yet to be catalogued). George Sullivan even followed up he and his mother’s art donation with another gift in 1937, for the construction of painting storage racks.

The racks are still in use.

Planting the SEEDs

Sewanee’s social entrepreneurship intern program exposes students to new worlds


Michael Benjamin with founder of Grameen Bank Dr. Muhammad Yunus at the 2010 Africa-Middle East Regional Microcredit Summit held in Kenya

Since 2007, students from Sewanee: The University of the South have been leaving their mountaintop campus in Tennessee and crossing the globe in search of new experiences and a world-class education in social entrepreneurship. Through the Social Entrepreneurship Education Program (SEED), summer internships take them to places like Bangladesh, China, and Indonesia, as well as some places at home in the U.S.

The SEED program is a crucial part of a surge in social entrepreneurship education at Sewanee over the last decade, which has included the introduction of new social entrepreneurship academic tracks as well as heavy student participation in the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite retreats.

Michael Mansfield and Taylor Triplett in a Bangladeshi village with a borrower who used her loan to buy a cow

SEED is a fully immersive, 8-week program that combines the internship with a 1-week intensive pre-business training course where students get an introduction to finance, accounting, and entrepreneurship through

lectures and workshops with faculty and alumni.

Axton Reilly carrying a 32-kilogram wheat bag for a World Food Program beneficiary

Participants in SEED get to work as interns at some of the most innovative and successful socially-conscious companies in the world. For instance, in Bangladesh, students work with the Grameen Bank, which describes itself as the “Bank for the Poor.” It provides credit to the poorest of poor Bangladeshi citizens with the aim of lifting them out of poverty. Despite requiring no collateral for their loans, the bank has an amazing 97% repayment rate.

“Microfinance” organizations like Grameen Bank have been the focus of most of the internships, but students also get to work with more traditional, well-known institutions, like the United Nations World Food Program, the world’s largest humanitarian organization.

Students receive a special certificate for completing the program, but the biggest thing they get is exposure to a new way of thinking that sends many of them on to careers making a living by making life better for others.

Thanks to Sewanee for their help preparing this article and providing photos.

A bridge to the community

Newberry College’s Muller Center brings Lutheran philosophy to community service and individual growth

The 2017-2018 class of Muller Student Research Fellows: Sarah Johnson, Benjamin Herring, and Mariah Lee

On the second floor of Newberry College’s Keller Hall stands a bridge that links the 161-year-old institution to the rest of Newberry County, South Carolina, and beyond.

Though not a physical bridge, the Muller Center brings together faculty, staff, students, and the community for service in the Lutheran liberal arts traditions of civic engagement, ethical deliberation, and vocational exploration.

It’s the kind of community-college connection that has been a successful model at so many Sullivan network schools. And one of its most recent student research fellows happens to be a Sullivan Award recipient.

Going beyond volunteerism

Benjamin Herring, 2018 Sullivan Award recipient and Newberry College Muller Student Research Fellow

A major purpose of the Muller Center is connecting faculty, staff, and students to community organizations in and around Newberry, so that they may greaten their impact, give back to the community, and expand their understandings of vocation, ethics, and civic engagement.

Dr. Krista E. Hughes, the Center’s director, says that the Muller Center’s three central tenets, vocational exploration, ethical deliberation, and civic engagement, go beyond simple volunteerism or activism.

“Volunteering in the community is fundamental, but the center emphasizes the importance of doing the work, reflecting on what one’s values are, and on how one has changed self and community through the work,” says Hughes.

The college’s AmeriCorps VISTA works out of the center to cultivate long-term relationships with community partners. The AmeriCorps VISTA program, or Volunteers in Service to America, is a federal program designed to alleviate poverty through volunteerism.

Research and reflection

Mariah Lee uses part of her fellowship to study microbiology

Since its inception, the Center has provided not only chances to volunteer with local community partner organizations, but also opportunities to independently work, research, and deliberate.

These initiatives include the Sojourners Initiative, a program engaging second and third-year students in self-reflection and community service projects; as well as the Muller Student Research Fellowship, which guides and funds select student service projects to connect coursework and research to civic and community needs.

The Center also works with the College’s civic engagement courses, offers travel grants for off-campus service coursework, and provides a fellowship for faculty and staff, along with a host of other current and future programs.

“We connect people,” says Hughes. “It’s what we do.”

One of Sullivan’s own

As part of her fellowship, which she used to study literacy in early education, Sarah Johnson shows a young student how to use a “Little Free Library” box

Among the most recent batch of student research fellows is Benjamin Herring, a Hopkins, South Carolina native, who also had the distinction of receiving a Sullivan Award at his recent graduation.

A summer internship in Quito, Ecuador was the foundation for his project. Combining on-the-ground experience with research, Herring sought to develop a strategic management system specifically for international non-governmental organizations. Locally, he worked to educate about the global aspects of civic engagement.

The types of projects students can use the fellowship for are wide-ranging. Sarah Johnson and Mariah Lee, the other two members of Herring’s fellowship class, worked on vastly different topics. Johnson focused on early literacy in education while Lee conducted microbiology research and studied vaccination rates among the elderly in Newberry County.

Vocation in the Lutheran tradition

Newberry is a Lutheran school, and that Lutheran philosophy is central to the Muller Center’s mission. The center was founded in January 2015 with funds bequeathed by John D. Muller to support students pursuing ministry to church and world.

“[Martin] Luther understood vocation as being something that everyone has,” says Hughes. “A lot of people hear the word ‘vocation’ and they think about a tech school or a trade school, or if they’re Roman Catholic, they may have associations with people who are in the clergy, but for Luther, he really felt like all people have a calling.”

Hughes, also an associate professor of religion at Newberry College, says that one’s calling by God is “where one’s own gifts and talents meet the world’s needs in a unique way.”

As the Muller Center enters its third full year and a bright future ahead, more and more students will discover just what their gifts and talents are, and where the world needs them.


This article was adapted from a piece by James Salter that originally appeared in The Newberry Observer. To read the original, visit newberryobserver.com. Additional reporting comes from Newberry College. To learn more, visit newberry.edu/news.

The buzz about social entrepreneurship

George Mason’s Honey Bee Initiative promotes sustainability, teaches future entrepreneurs

Students and faculty work at the apiary on the George Mason campus

George Mason University has a vision for itself. That vision? To be “the best university for the world.” It’s a bold goal—the kind of thinking that makes a great Sullivan school.

Sometimes, achieving big things means encountering small ones. Small creatures, in this case: bees. Since 2012, the GMU campus in Fairfax, Virginia, has been host to an apiary as part of its Honey Bee Initiative.

Since the ribbon cutting on that first apiary, the initiative has expanded to 50 apiaries across Northern Virginia. It has three primary goals: conducting applied research to combat colony collapse, providing hands-on teaching about sustainable beekeeping practices and social entrepreneurship, and establishing collaborative partnerships to improve the security and sustainability of the Northern Virginia ecosystem.

Going global

Germán Perilla works with students at the apiary

The decline of honey bee populations is an ecological crisis that affects not only the United States, however, but much of the world.

That led Germán Perilla, who is the director of the initiative, and Lisa Gring-Pemble, Director of Social Entrepreneurship and Global Impact at GMU’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, to think about taking their project global. Thus, a new course was born: Social Impact and Entrepreneurship. The immersive course takes students to South America for 10 days during spring break to get a granular look at local businesses that not only make a profit, but also help people and the environment.

Francis Fuller, a senior accounting major, took the course this spring along with 14 other students. Once she arrived, she found herself in a very unusual, and at least a little uncomfortable, position: she had never been around so many bees.

But there she was, in a beekeeper’s suit, in the Santander region of Colombia, hearing the insects buzzing around her head.

“To be around that many bees and not running from them was an experience,” says Fuller.

The Honey Bee Initiative has provided about 180 beehives to the Santander region through its social entrepreneurship outreach, making it a natural fit for the course.

An immersive ten days

In addition to touring some of those hives and speaking with the beekeepers—mostly women looking to create a sustainable livelihood that meshes with family and household obligations, according to Gring-Pemble—students visited businesses that produce honey, chocolate, brown sugar, and coffee, and explored their business models.

They also met with bankers and mayors, and administrators from the Universidad Industrial de Santander, all of whom are helping to finance and advance these initiatives.

“We’re reading about these abstract concepts about social entrepreneurship, using business to create a better world, and it all sounds really wonderful,” says Gring-Pemble. “But when [students] meet a business owner who says I’m willing to pay above what the market sets as a wage because it’s the right thing to do, and I’m making a profit and doing it in a way that’s sustainable, then they take notice.”

“They were able to see the whole picture of what social entrepreneurship is,” says Perilla, who also teaches beekeeping classes at Mason. “It’s one thing to create case studies. It’s another thing if you can go see the complexity of it.”

A personal experience

Germán Perilla

Seeing how beehives have been incorporated into the lives of locals was especially impactful for Fuller, who came to the United States from Cartagena, Colombia, in 2010.

“The trip allowed me to understand the importance of learning about problems and the communities before attempting to generate a solution, which is necessary to create sustainable change,” says Fuller. “That was a key concept throughout the class before going on the trip, and was also very much present through our time in Colombia.”

“Beyond that,” she says, “I have a much deeper appreciation for bees.”


This article was adapted from a piece by Damian Cristodero of George Mason University.

Did You Know?

Sullivan was educated by his father, then helped educate the state of Indiana

Algernon Sydney Sullivan at the age of 23. This photograph, taken in 1849, is the earliest known image of Sullivan.

When Algernon Sydney Sullivan was growing up in Indiana, there was no public education system, as was true in most states in the first half of the 19th century. As a result, responsibility

Jeremiah Sullivan, Algernon Sydney Sullivan’s father, was born and raised in Virginia but later became a prominent attorney and statesman in Indiana.

for the young boy’s education fell to his father, Jeremiah Sullivan.

Jeremiah Sullivan, fortunately, was a staunch believer in the value of education and would not stand for anything but a top-rate tutor for his son. An Englishman named Roswell Elms was hired for the job, and Algernon Sydney Sullivan, a naturally studious child, began studying literature, writing, and oratory in both English and Latin—skills that would later serve him well in his career as a lawyer.

That both Elms and Sullivan’s father held education in such high esteem had another impact on Sullivan, however, which was that he became thoroughly convinced that everyone should receive the same excellent training.

Sullivan went on to college, and, despite difficult health problems (Sullivan’s health was always frail; he would suffer bouts of sickness frequently through the rest of his life) managed to graduate from Miami University of Ohio in 1845.

He then returned home to Indiana to begin his training as a lawyer. Even as he prepared for that respected and lucrative career for himself, though, his burgeoning desire to be a servant of the public began to manifest itself.

A movement had been started in Indiana by a man named Caleb Mills. Mills was an education reformer who wished to see the establishment of public education in the state. In its early stages, the campaign was a decidedly uphill one. Residents did not want to pay the taxes that would be required to fund such a large public service.

Sullivan, of course, felt that the cost would be far outweighed by the benefit of a more educated populace, so he joined Mills’s efforts and began touring the state, putting the oratorical skills he’d learned from Elms as a child to work in an effort to sway public opinion.

The Sullivan family home in Madison, Indiana, where Algernon Sydney Sullivan was educated by his father and his tutor, Roswell Elms.

The work was further training that would serve him in his legal career and perhaps laid the foundation for the life of service ahead of him. In 1848, a statewide referendum revealed that a majority of Indiana voters supported the establishment of public education, laying the groundwork for a statewide system.

Sullivan always credited his father, who was stern but also steadfastly ethical, for his moral dedication. A story from years later recounts that a colleague of his became frustrated and impatient with Sullivan because of his extreme scrupulousness. The colleague asked him, “Sullivan, have you ever been tempted to do anything which you thought was wrong?”

Sullivan reportedly thought about the question for a moment and then replied, “Yes, frequently, but I always thought of my dear old father and then I could not do it.”

Taking on the world

A Sullivan Award recipient from Chad overcomes a language barrier. Now he plans to take on malaria back home

For many people, graduating from college and landing that first job is the ultimate goal. For 2018 University of Kentucky grad Esias Bedingar, his ultimate goal is a little bigger—he wants to eradicate malaria in his home country of Chad.

The grand scale of his humanitarian ambitions has earned him many honors at UK, including a Sullivan Award.

“It’s a big issue, with so many consequences on the economy and social aspect of the Chadian population,” says Bedingar. “I really want to combine my clinical and research experiences together to try to do something about it.”

It’s a seemingly herculean task, but those who know Bedingar know this goal is not out of his reach. The native French speaker knew absolutely no English when he came to UK from N’Djamena, Chad in 2014. Four years later, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public health (with a minor in neuroscience) and began the master of public health program in global health and population health at Harvard University that fall. After Harvard, he plans to attend medical school.

Esias Bedingar’s father, Touba Bedingar, graduated from UK 30 years before his son.

A family tradition

Bedingar first came to UK because of his father, Touba Bedingar, who earned master’s and doctoral degrees in agricultural economics from UK 30 years ago.

“It’s thanks to UK that my father became successful,” says Bedingar. “I hope to be as successful as he is right now. Getting a degree here at UK means a lot to me. I came here with no English, now I’m graduating from college here at UK, and I’m going to Harvard. It’s just like a dream.”

Bedingar spent his first semester at UK in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program. After that, he officially began his UK coursework. While he knew he eventually wanted to go to medical school and study the brain, he also wanted to find a way to combine medicine with population health. After a visit home to Chad in 2016, his goals became even more clear.

“The prevalence of malaria in Chad is 30 percent, and 40 percent of all deaths in Chad are due to malaria,” he says. “So I said, ‘I think I can do something about it.’”

Bedingar works with his mentor, Associate Professor Yang Jiang of UK’s Department of Behavioral Science, to study Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia to further his knowledge in the medical field

Delivering the medicine and the message

It was then Bedingar founded Motocross for Malaria, a nongovernmental organization that provides antimalarial treatments and educational materials to people in rural areas of Chad.

“Right now, we’re working on prevention, specifically developing booklets in order to educate people on how to protect themselves from malaria using mosquito nets and other kinds of malaria vector controls,” he says. “Motocross for Malaria fills my heart with joy because I can dream of a better country. Eradicating malaria will stimulate economic growth and unlock human potential in Chad, and that is why it has become my lifetime goal.”

Bedingar presents his research on Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia

Servant Scientist

During his four years at UK, Bedingar took on many leadership positions, including president of the African Student Association, senator in UK Student Government, and ambassador with the UK International Center. He also founded a chapter of the American Mock World Health Organization on campus.

As a Chellgren Student Fellow and student in the UK Lewis Honors College, Bedingar discovered his passion for research. He spent his last year studying how cerebral malaria can be a future risk factor for different types of neurodegenerative diseases.

“I was trying to link infectious disease and chronic disease — this is something that no one did before,” he said. “I want to try to see if malaria can be a source for the development of brain disorders or brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia or other types of neurodegenerative diseases.”

Bedingar worked on an honors thesis with his mentor, Associate Professor Yang Jiang of UK’s Department of Behavioral Science, studying Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia to further his knowledge in the medical field. By using electrophotography, he learned how vascular dementia can affect memory and learning capacities.

“It’s because of all of those experiences that now I can combine public health and neuroscience together,” says Bedingar. “UK is pretty intensive in terms of academic preparation. I feel like that’s why I’m not scared to go to Harvard, because I feel like I am prepared to study there thanks to the education that I got here at UK. Academically, I think I’m ready.”

T Esias Bedingar receives a Sullivan Award from Sullivan Committee member Larry Grabau during UK’s University Honors and Recognition Awards Program April 11, 2018. Photo by Mark Cornelison of UK

Honors well-earned

In addition to his Sullivan Award, Bedingar received UK’s Otis A. Singletary Outstanding Senior Award. He participated in the Clinton Global Initiative University, the World Bank Group Youth Summit, and volunteered in hospitals in both Lexington and Chad.

In the face of adversity, Bedingar says having his father as his role model, along with his faith and the desire to help people, keep him motivated.

“Looking at (my father) working hard, and not complaining about what happens in life—everything happens for a reason and you just have to move forward and work hard,” he says. “I cried and asked why, but you work hard and finish the thesis, or learn English. It’s just believing in yourself, that you can do it, and then you will do it. This is simply how I did it.”

This article was adapted from a piece that originally appeared on the University of Kentucky’s news site. To read the original, or learn more about UK, visit uknow.uk.edu.

Award Spotlight: Cindy Jackson

1981 South Carolina grad wins community Sullivan Award for her heroic response to personal tragedy