Study Abroad in Scotland: A “Game of Thrones” Adventure

If you were a character on Game of Thrones, which one would you be? Jon Snow, the noble, dutiful hero? Daenerys, the fierce, fearless and charismatic breaker of chains? Or are you more like Tyrion, the wily, witty, warm-hearted underdog with a penchant for peacemaking and a taste for the good life?

Students who take part in the Sullivan Foundation’s Study Abroad in Scotland adventure this summer will discover their personal leadership styles in the context of the beloved HBO show, according to Dr. Jody Holland, a University of Mississippi professor who will lead one of the two courses offered in the program.

Doune Castle near Scotland was used to depict Winterfell, the Stark family’s ancestral home, in the early episodes of Game of Thrones. HBO is reportedly planning to shoot scenes for the hit show’s prequel, House of the Dragon, in the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands.

“We’re going to have some fun with it,” said Holland, an assistant professor in Ole Miss’ Department of Public Policy Leadership. “This is a Game of Thrones-oriented program. We’re going to look at some characters from Game of Thrones and identify their leadership traits and apply those [to the coursework]. We’re expecting this program to be a highly engaging, active learning process that individuals will glean a lot of information from.”

this photo shows edinburgh, home base for the Sullivan Study Abroad in Scotland program

Edinburgh will be the home base for this summer’s Study Abroad in Scotland program. (Image by Ellen26 from Pixabay)

Titled “Leading for Innovation: Study Abroad in Scotland,” the program, offered in partnership with Arcadia University, takes place June 4-July 4. Applications must be submitted by Feb. 1, and candidates who are selected to participate will be notified by Feb. 7.

Click here to learn more about the Study Abroad in Scotland program and fill out the application here.

The program is designed for students interested in social entrepreneurship and innovation. Scotland is one of the world’s leaders in the social-enterprise sector. A 2017 census conducted by the Scottish government found there were 5,600 social enterprises operating in Scotland, an increase of 8 percent over 2015. These social ventures employed more than 81,000 people and generated £3.8 billion (about $5.45 billion) in annual revenues.

Related: This Scottish social entrepreneur is the landlord every tenant deserves

But launching a social enterprise requires unique leadership skills that you can’t learn in a typical college-level business course. Holland will teach the study-abroad program’s “Leadership by Design” class, which focuses on the practice of leadership. The course examines topics such as the nature of leadership, recognizing leadership traits, developing leadership skills, creating a vision, handling conflict and overcoming obstacles, among others.

“We want students to take a self-reflective look so they can identify their own leadership philosophy, strengths and skills and really dive into that ability to self-design their leadership approach and serve as an agent of change on their campus and in their community, region and the world,” Holland said.

this photo depicts characters who inspired the Sullivan Study Abroad in Scotland program

By the end of the Study Abroad in Scotland program, you’ll know something (about social entrepeneurship), Jon Snow. (Photo by HBO)

At the same time, students will venture out of the classroom, exploring the thriving social enterprise scene in Edinburgh and other Scottish cities. “We want the students to immerse themselves in the culture and environment,” Holland said. “We’re going to have a lot of engagement with the community and with community leaders.”

Spud Marshall, the Sullivan Foundation’s Student Engagement Coordinator, said the second course, “Social Change in Action,” offers a “spiral learning dynamic.”

“We’ll start with a clear framework for creative ways to innovate around social and environmental problems,” he said. “Spiraling up from there, the students will create a case study analysis of local groups in the community that are tackling some of these social problems. They’ll be able to apply those frameworks to practical case studies and then scale up to a blueprint for social change. Students will work in teams to create unique social innovation interventions based on local groups they connect with and insights from the community.”

“We’ll bounce a lot back and forth between what social change in action looks like and the inner dimension of leading social change, making sure these students have the inner qualities they need to effect change,” Marshall added.

The first week of the program will focus on leadership, while the second week takes students out into the community to learn from social-enterprise leaders and changemakers. “During the third week, we’ll really start to dive into the principles of social entrepreneurship, and the students will start to develop their own blueprints for effective change,” Marshall said. “And in the fourth week, we’ll package it all together with a focus on effective storytelling and communication techniques students can use to properly convey their ideas and pitch the projects they want to bring into the world.”

Related: Scottish government commits millions to funding social enterprises in 2020

Throughout the month-long program, co-curricular events will immerse students in Scottish culture and provide day-trip opportunities. Past excursions have ranged from a Highlands Games day to a Scottish dancing experience and visits to Rosslyn Chapel and the Scottish Borders. Students will be housed in flats at the University of Edinburgh.

The fee for the program is $4,740, which covers six hours of academic credit, housing, site visits and tours, health and accident insurance, 24-hour emergency support and local transportation in Edinburgh. A limited number of Scotland study-abroad scholarships, ranging between $500 and $1,000, are available for students who attend the Sullivan Foundation’s partner schools. For more information on the scholarships, contact Merry Huddleston at


Gearing Up for an Exciting 2020

By Steve McDavid, President, Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation

Welcome to the Spring 2020 edition of Engage. This issue offers a wide range of feature stories, from student experiences at our Summer 2019 study-abroad program in Prague and Berry College’s first-ever Sullivan Scholar to a look back at one of Rollins College’s most beloved alumni—Fred Rogers of “Mister Rogers” fame.

We’re also excited about upcoming Sullivan events and programs scheduled for the spring and summer of 2020. First up: Our Spring Ignite Retreat, which takes place March 27-29 in Wake Forest, N.C. Once again Spud Marshall will lead our student attendees on a changemaking adventure, and he has recruited an impressive roster of facilitators to guide them on their journey. These include returning favorites like Josh Nadzam of On the Move Art Studio and Reagan Pugh of Assemble as well as several newcomers, such as Jarren Small of Reading With a Rapper and U-Turn’s Adrienne Wright. Additionally, the Sullivan Summit for Faculty and Staff, to be held in conjunction with the Ignite Retreat, will provide a professional development opportunity that will deepen attendees’ understanding of social entrepreneurship. The deadline to register for both the Ignite Retreat and the Sullivan Summit is March 11.

Meanwhile, students with a passion for social change and entrepreneurship will get a chance to put their skills to work in one of the country’s most impoverished cities—Selma, Alabama—during this summer’s inaugural Selma Community Innovation Immersion Program. From May 17 through June 5, participants will work with Edmundite Missions, which has served people in need for more than 80 years. Students will spend this two-week period mentoring youths, improving community food programs and developing a marketing plan for the Edmundites’ social enterprises. Applications for this program are due April 3.

We’ll also offer a once-in-a-lifetime study-abroad opportunity in Edinburgh, Scotland, from June 4 through July 4. Students will meet and learn from leading social entrepreneurs while taking two courses: Leadership by Design, which focuses on the practice of leadership, and Social Change in Action, an introduction to the emerging field of social entrepreneurship and innovation. The deadline for this program, offered in partnership with Arcadia University, is coming up fast—Feb. 7—so sign up now.

We anticipate that 2020 will be an exciting year for the Sullivan Foundation, and we hope it will be equally productive for our partner schools and their faculty, staff and students. We welcome your feedback on this issue of Engage and invite you to suggest story ideas for our Fall 2020 issue as well. As always, thank you for your support.

Hailey McMahon: Meet Berry College’s First Sullivan Scholar

By Faythe Choate, Berry College Public Relations Student Assistant 

Berry College has awarded its first-ever Sullivan Scholarship to a freshman with a passion for animal welfare – animal science major Hailey McMahon. She has been awarded $10,000 annually for her four years of study at Berry, the Sullivan Foundation partner school recently announced.

Sullivan Scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate model character and a commitment to service above self, aligning with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation’s ideal traits of character, including honesty, morality, ethics, responsibility, determination, courage and compassion.

Before coming to Berry, McMahon was involved in youth leadership and volunteered in her school’s Biology Club, cleaning animal cages and coordinating events for elementary school students. She also worked with a Marine Science Station to replant eel-grass and assisted with hurricane clean-up in Florida. McMahon cares deeply about animals, specifically felines. She hopes to use her time at Berry as a Sullivan Scholar to explore and promote animal welfare in the community.

“I’m researching organizations in Rome (Ga.) that have trap, neuter and return programs,” McMahon said. “Every cat deserves a chance to thrive. Just because they may not live in your home doesn’t mean they’re not worthy.”

this photo depicts Hailey McMahon, winner of the Sullivan Scholarship at Berry College

Hailey McMahon, who earned the first-ever Sullivan Scholarship at Berry College, majors in animal science. (Photo by Bryan Chamberlain/Berry College)

Students apply for the Sullivan Scholarship with an essay detailing their careers of service, leadership and community outreach. Recipients are asked to remain in good academic standing. Recipients are also expected to actively participate in community engagement such as service, community-based research, or social entrepreneurship.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation’s roots date back to the 1880s when U.S. President Grover Cleveland and a group of other influential persons created the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to honor those that inspire a life of integrity and service. Recipients include First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, Fred Rogers of “Mister Rogers” fame, and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, to name a few. In addition to the award, the Foundation has been funding service-based Sullivan Scholarships at colleges across the American South since 1925.

The Sullivan Foundation remains dedicated to alleviating socio-economic issues. Today, the Foundation remains as strong as ever and is expanding the reach of the Sullivan spirit by focusing on social entrepreneurship education, which equips universities, students and community members with the tools necessary to apply business models to social issues.

“I have a strong belief that this program will help me achieve so many wonderful things throughout my years here at Berry and those that follow,” McMahon wrote. “I can’t wait to further develop my leadership skills and social skills and to really dive into how I can help my community.”

Nationally recognized for academic excellence and as an outstanding educational value, Berry College is an independent, coeducational, comprehensive liberal arts college of approximately 2,100 students. For more than a century, the college has offered an exceptional education that balances intellectual exploration, practical learning, and character development. Its 27,000-acre campus is the world’s largest. Visit




A History Overlooked

By Lindsey Nair

MaKayla Lorick, winner of the 2019 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Washington and Lee University (W&L), can trace her love of stories to early childhood, when her grandparents told lively yarns about their younger years. She followed that thread to W&L, where it has afforded her the opportunity to seek and record some of the university’s most important overlooked tales.

Lorick, a senior English major, has been working since the summer of 2018 on a multi-institutional project that aims to incorporate more African-American perspectives into the history of desegregation and integration at private Southern schools. Her role allows her to comb through W&L’s Special Collections and gather oral histories from black alumni, faculty and staff.

MaKayla Lorick received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award from Washington and Lee University in 2019.

“It’s such an exciting thing to dip your fingers into history and to listen to other people’s stories,” she said. “It betters your life and the lives of others. Just to color in one person’s perspective on history is beautiful.”

The overall project, “Pathway to Diversity: Uncovering Our Collections,” is a collaboration with Centre College and Sullivan Foundation partner schools Furman University and Rollins College, and is funded by a grant from Associated Colleges of the South (ACS). Along with its partner institutions, W&L is working to build a shared digital archive of information regarding the history of desegregation and integration at these schools. At W&L, the project is being led by Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of English Sydney Bufkin, with support from Tom Camden, head of Special Collections and Archives.

The Slow Pace of Integration

Compared to public colleges and universities in the South, whose public status and reliance on federal funding forced them to integrate in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education, Bufkin said, “the history of integration at W&L looks very different. It’s quieter, but also less effective and slower. We are grappling with the consequences of a response to integration that really, when you look at the documents and history, appears to be an attempt to do as little as possible… It is a history that we continue to live, so I think recognizing some of the ways the institution has dealt with race—or not dealt with race—historically is really valuable and is something we can address a little more head-on, especially as we try to do things differently.”

Related: Learn more about how students like MaKayla Lorick qualify for the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

Washington and Lee’s board of trustees did not take action regarding integration until a full decade after Brown vs. Board, in July 1964, with a statement that was viewed by most as deliberately vague and uninspired. Without using the words “integration,” “desegregation” or “race,” it simply stated that no policy of discrimination existed at W&L. It was accompanied by no effort to recruit students of color or make W&L a more welcoming place for them.

Another eight years passed before Carl Linwood Smothers and Walter Blake became the first African-American graduates of W&L in 1972. The W&L School of Law had awarded its first degree to a black student, Leslie Devan Smith Jr., in 1969.

Initial goals for the ACS project included identifying materials currently in Special Collections that belong in the digital archive; creating an annotated bibliography; collecting oral histories from alumni, faculty and staff; and determining how to incorporate those materials into the curriculum. As Bufkin considered the oral history piece, she said, she immediately thought of Lorick, who had taken her African-American literature class.

photo MaKayla Lorick speaking to an audience

MaKayla Lorick has been combing through W&L’s Special Collections and gathering oral histories from black alumni, faculty and staff.

English professor Lesley Wheeler agreed that Lorick, her advisee, would be a perfect fit, as she has an interest in digital humanities, and spent the summer of 2016 assisting history professor Ted DeLaney on an African-American history project in Special Collections. (Since becoming involved in the project, Lorick was also selected to be a member of the Working Group on the History of African Americans at W&L). Although the ACS grant does not cover student researchers, Bufkin was able to fund Lorick’s role with Mellon Digital Humanities summer research funding and, as the academic year commenced, with a Mellon Digital Humanities Fellowship.

What started as a simple summer job search became something incredibly meaningful, Lorick said. “I thought I was just going to get some random summer job on campus but Professor Wheeler really opened a door with one tiny conversation. Stumbling onto this project is one of the best things that’s happened to me. It’s really serendipity.”

Lorick began by reading sections of Mame Warren’s 1998 history, “Come Cheer for Washington and Lee” and Blaine Brownell’s “Washington and Lee University: 1930-2000.” She also scoured yearbooks, scrapbooks, newspapers, letters and other sources in Special Collections to start a list of people to approach for oral histories.

While the project was initially focused on black men who graduated in 1974, the first year with a noteworthy number of black graduates (17), Lorick and Bufkin soon realized that scope was too narrow. They also knew that Warren had already collected oral histories from those men. Lorick wanted to include the perspectives of black women, who had not been interviewed for Warren’s book, so she began to build a list from the first few years of coeducation at W&L, from 1985-1990. She also wanted to include faculty and staff, not just alumni.

Recording History

Midway through the summer, it was time to start scheduling interviews. Over the next couple of months, she would record conversations with Ted Delaney ’85, associate professor of history at W&L and a Lexington native; Edwin Walker, a retired Print Shop employee; Stephanie Coleman ’89; Willard Dumas III ’91; and Marquita Dunn, who retired from Dining Services. These interviews included questions about the subject’s first impressions of Lexington and W&L, and their experiences connected to integration and/or coeducation.

Some interview subjects recalled negative experiences at Washington and Lee, such as a white boyfriend’s reluctance to escort his black girlfriend on the homecoming court, or white professors taking advantage of a black employee’s intellect and work ethic while denying him the respect and upward mobility he deserved. But Lorick said she was surprised to find that the interviews were, for the most part, positive.

“It ended up being more positive than I expected,” she said. “Interview subjects do not forget about the bad, but they are better able to remember the good.”

Lorick said she also had to work through some disappointment over the lack of detail provided about segregation in Lexington, particularly about the relationships between white and black citizens. “When the first individual told me that there was nothing more to say, I thought, there has to be! But as I began to unravel the project a little bit more, I thought more about what segregation must have looked like, and in the end they were totally right. They didn’t really know their neighbors, and that was just the culture.”

Recording these views and closing even the smallest gaps in W&L’s institutional history has been fulfilling, Lorick said. As a first-year student, she was frustrated by the lack of black perspectives in the archives; now, through her work as an upperclassman, she will be directly responsible for changing other students’ experiences.

“I thought that W&L wasn’t making a big enough effort to cover the staff, faculty, students and alumni. When I came upon this project, I knew that there was a choice that I had to make and it was exciting and thrilling. I get to go through these archives all the time and I see the people who have recorded history. This time, I’ll be the one recording history.”

Digging Deeper
One requirement of the ACS grant was that each of the four colleges incorporate findings into a course. At W&L, that course was “Race, Memory, Nation,” a first-year Fall Term writing seminar taught by Assistant English Professor Ricardo Wilson. Wilson spent considerable time with Bufkin and Lorick in Special Collections over the summer to develop the course, which delved into issues of race, integration and civil rights.

another photo showing MaKayla Lorick at work

MaKayla Lorick gets ready to conduct an interview as Professor Ricardo Wilson and his students look on. (Photo by Kevin Remington)

With guidance from Lorick and Wilson, the students conducted research and selected topics about which they were required to produce video essays as final projects in the course. The four groups decided to focus on integration in athletics, coeducation, and two pivotal moments in W&L history: the 1923 football game against Washington and Jefferson University, and the board of trustees’ 1961 decision to not invite Martin Luther King Jr. to speak at W&L.

The group that focused on integration in athletics secured on-camera interviews with four former W&L athletes, including its first African-American athlete, Dennis Haston ’70. Haston, who ran track and field, and former basketball player Eugene Perry ’75, ‘78L, recounted upsetting incidents both on and off campus. In one example, Perry was invited by a coach to try out for the basketball team, only to find out the team had already been selected and jerseys had been ordered. But the men said they also found allies at W&L, including white fellow athletes.

“At the time when I came to W&L, I didn’t come to W&L to be a pioneer. But now if people look at me, they want to say, ‘You were a pioneer.’” Haston said. “I was one of the first ones to … open the door for other African-Americans to come. Maybe because of me doing that, it has made it easier for other students to come. I’m glad I had the opportunity. If I had to live my life over again, I would still do it. I have no regrets about the decision I made.”

Related: Read MaKayla Lorick’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award Biography here.

The hours of raw interview footage collected by Wilson’s students has been sent to Special Collections, where it will bolster Lorick’s contributions and strengthen the university’s overall archive of materials related to desegregation and integration. Wilson is cautiously optimistic about what he sees as positive strides toward confronting some of the university’s most difficult history and smoothing the way for future students of color.

“In general in the U.S., we have a tough time confronting our history, and W&L is certainly at a critical moment where I think there is great possibility,” he said. “It is also something we have to approach carefully because we have a chance to set the tone and make an example, not only in the region but also to other academic institutions.

“How fortunate we are to have someone like MaKayla Lorick, with a blend of extraordinary talent and extraordinary passion,” he said. “To have someone like her involved in this project is a good first step.”

Next Steps
MaKayla Lorick plans to present her findings during Black Alumni Reunion weekend (March 8-9). She also has received a Johnson Opportunity Grant for summer 2019, which will allow her to gather more oral histories and develop a digital exhibit. She has begun to share her findings on her project website. As she prepares to graduate in December 2019, she will hand off the project to other students. One, Rose Hein ’22, has already been awarded a summer research scholar position to contribute to the ACS project.

Tom Camden, head of Special Collections and Archives at W&L, helps students in Professor Ricardo Wilson’s class, “Race, Memory, Nation,” as they begin research for their final projects. (Photo by Kevin Remington)

“Our hope is that this material and some of these questions will continue to be integrated into the classroom so students can be exposed and they can continue to work,” Bufkin said. “I think we are really excited to have this material support student-driven projects…It is a very collaborative effort. Nobody owns it or has a single direction.”

For MaKayla Lorick, what started as a two-month summer gig grew into an experience that she says “has really shaped me, has made me stronger, and has made me think that in a couple of years the university will truly be better.” She hopes that her daughter, Zara, 2, will someday become a General and will see her mother’s name on documents in university archives — a very different experience from her own.

“I can’t even imagine how that would have felt for me to see my mom’s name recording histories,” she said. “I hope that she can have that experience and she can know that anything is possible, that you can touch the stars and that you can be a history maker, and you can be on the right side of history, too.”

This story has been adapted slightly from the original version appearing on the Washington and Lee University website.

A Life-Changing Summer in Prague

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 2019 in the Czech Republic’s capital city in a Sullivan-sponsored study-abroad experience. 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.

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 Sullivan Foundation President Steve McDavid; Dr. Jody Holland, an assistant professor in the University of Mississippi’s Department of Public Policy Leadership; and Heather McDougall, founder and executive director of Leadership exCHANGE.

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

Lori Babb, a Sullivan Ambassador and Sullivan Scholar, poses at the John Lennon Wall during a Sullivan study-abroad experience 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.”

Expecting the Unexpected

While social enterprise and leadership were the key subjects of study, the focus “expanded outside of just the classroom and syllabus,” Babb noted. The program 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.”

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 Sullivan study-abroad program in Prague, Lori 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.”

Building a Sustainable World

Throughout her study-abroad experience, Babb gained 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.”

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.”

Fired Up at the Ignite Retreat

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 fired up to represent 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.”

“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.”

Cecilia Trotter: Saying “Yes” to Risks

Risk-taking doesn’t come easily to most of us, but University of Mississippi student Cecilia Trotter believes we can’t live full, rich lives without braving the unknown now and then. Her recent experience with the Sullivan Foundation’s Fall 2019 Ignite Retreat, held Oct. 18-20 in Black Mountain, N.C., drove that lesson home for Trotter in a significant way.

“You never really know where life will take you, and this retreat helped me want to say yes to more things in my life and take more risks,” said Trotter, a senior majoring in Public Policy Leadership and minoring in business, journalism and entrepreneurship at Ole Miss, a Sullivan Foundation partner school. “Risks are big for me, too—sometimes I really like to play it safe.”

Related: College students can get hands-on experience with social innovation in Selma, Alabama

Trotter, who hails from Greenville, Miss., was voted Miss Ole Miss by her fellow students this year, so she knows a thing or two about putting herself out there. She designed her campaign platform, called Rebel Heart, “to empower students and create a culture of positivity” while promoting mental health and wellness. Among her many activities on campus, Trotter serves on the Associated Student Body Cabinet and is a past co-director of the ASB’s First Year Experience program. She has also been an Ole Miss orientation leader and a team leader for the Ole Miss Big Event, the largest community service project in the university’s history.

Trotter has attended two Ignite Retreats and traveled to Prague this past summer for a Sullivan-sponsored study-abroad program that focused on leadership and social entrepreneurship. She will also serve as a Sullivan intern at the foundation’s Summer 2020 program, Leading for Social Innovation: Study Abroad in Scotland, which takes place June 4-July 4 in Edinburgh.

The Scotland program, developed in partnership with Arcadia University, features two courses—Leadership by Design and Social Change in Action. The first course emphasizes the practice and tools of leadership, while the second one introduces students to the emerging field of social entrepreneurship and innovation, empowering them to develop their own capacities for solving social problems while learning effective communications and storytelling skills. Students will take part in field trips across Scotland, meeting with social entrepreneurs and helping develop new initiatives to strengthen their ventures.

Related: Sullivan Ambassador Lori Babb aims to use social entrepreneurship and bioethics to change the world

Trotter, who loves to travel, said she “thoroughly enjoyed” her study-abroad adventure in Prague. “I was really excited to travel there as I had never seen any part of Eastern Europe,” she recalled. “I found Prague to be a sweet, little hidden gem. It had its own sense of charm that I have never experienced anywhere else, and I just found myself wanting to explore more every day.”

this photo shows Cecilia Trotter at Ole Miss prior to the Study Abroad in Scotland program

Cecilia Trotter is the current Miss Ole Miss and an intern for the Sullivan Foundation’s Study Abroad in Scotland program.

“The history of the Czech Republic and the old architecture and buildings made it feel as if you were living in the midst of so many different periods of time while still living your own experience,” Trotter added. “It felt really surreal as I began to see and consider all the different perspectives of both my fellow travelers and the natives around the city.”

Always ready for another overseas adventure, Trotter looks forward to working with the Sullivan study-abroad cohort in Edinburgh next summer. “The great thing about the courses offered through the Sullivan Foundation is that any student can benefit from them,” she noted. “We will all be called or challenged at some point in our lives to be a leader and have opportunities to serve or stand up as a leader. That is why I think it is important to take the [study-abroad] leadership course—so you may have the opportunity to dive deeper into learning about yourself and how you may lead others.”

Related: Sullivan Field Trip students discover the power of creative placemaking to help communities spur economic growth

The Scotland program’s course in social entrepreneurship is also important, she said, “because it focuses on innovative thinking. I found, in my own experience, that the ability to think creatively and innovatively fits any interest. Whether a student is interested in politics, medicine, art, or engineering, this course allows them to take the things they are passionate about and form ideas on how to move their interest forward. I really enjoyed the entrepreneurship course [in Prague] as it has given me insight on how to create and dream in systems, and I already feel like I have a strong system in place. Some students are already really great at that, but being able to challenge yourself while also seeking [innovative ideas] through a new lens abroad is something I find invaluable to education.”

Trotter is still mulling over her career options, but she will most likely earn her law degree next. Over the long term, in true Sullivan changemaker fashion, she hopes to live a life of service to others. “I really do see myself starting in a career with a law degree,” she said, “but also working in projects that will focus more through an entrepreneurial lens that targets the well-being of others and the education of young people.”

Experienced changemakers at the Fall 2019 Ignite Retreat included (from left): Crystal Dreisbach of Don’t Waste Durham and GreenToGo; Alexis Taylor of 3 Day Startup; Ajax Jackson of Magnolia Yoga Studio; Tessa Zimmerman of ASSET Education; and Abhinav Khanal of Bean Voyage.

In that regard, Trotter took some inspiration from facilitators and guest speakers at the Fall Ignite Retreat. Many of them are successful social entrepreneurs who use the principles of business to improve their communities. Crystal Dreisbach, for example, founded both a nonprofit, Don’t Waste Durham, and a social enterprise, GreenToGo, that focus on sustainability and reducing waste in Durham, N.C. Dreisbach related her changemaking experiences in an Ignite Retreat session attended by Trotter. “It was probably one of the best stories I have heard in my life,” Trotter said. “All of the women who spoke had the most amazing stories.”

Related: Crystal Dreisbach’s GreenToGo makes it easier for restaurants to kick the styrofoam habit

But Trotter was just as inspired by the student changemakers she encountered at the Sullivan event. “We have some really passionate, dedicated and extremely creative and intelligent young adults who, I believe, will do some really great things for our world in the future,” she said. “It is super-empowering to put all of these college students in one small place together for a weekend. People are exchanging ideas and working together to help one another, and it is so genuine … I think that students who are seeking to better themselves and make new and future connections would greatly enjoy this retreat. Even trying it won’t hurt or be a waste of time because I think you will leave with a piece of something that will better you.”

After all, trying is what changemaking is all about, as facilitators like Spud Marshall and Chad Littlefield made clear in their Ignite Retreat sessions. “Spud and Chad really have a way of making the risk seem like a small bump in the road,” Trotter said. “Quite honestly, it probably is, but when you are a young college student with no money and have a lot of ideas in your head with little direction, it seems huge. I think that my experience with the Sullivan Foundation has really helped me stop glorifying the risk and start glorifying the action of moving forward, knowing I could really, really fail in some aspect of life, big or small. I have also gotten to meet some really positive and intelligent people along the way whom I look up to. Sometimes, I feel like college students hear things like, ‘Do not join the real world—it’s a trap.’ But I’m excited to move forward, and meeting people through the Sullivan Foundation has solidified that for me.”


The Real Mister Rogers

The world knew him as a saintly, soft-spoken figure in sneakers and a cardigan sweater who lived in a magical world of puppets and singing policemen. But long before he became every child’s best-loved neighbor, the real Mister Rogers was a familiar and comforting sight on the campus of his alma mater, Sullivan Foundation partner school Rollins College.

Those who knew Fred Rogers best unanimously agree the character he portrayed in his classic PBS show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” was scarcely different from the man who studied music composition, philosophy and religion as a Rollins student in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In fact, Rogers was such a force for goodness and decency, Rollins awarded him the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation Award in March 2001.

this photo depicts the real Mister Rogers as a student at Rollins College

There was little difference between the real Mister Rogers and the character Fred Rogers played on his iconic TV show, according to those who knew him well at Sullivan Foundation partner school Rollins College.

Rogers isn’t the only famous Sullivan Award recipient—Eleanor Roosevelt was another recipient, after all—but he’s certainly the only one to be played by A-list actor Tom Hanks in a major feature film. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” debuted to rave reviews nationwide in November 2019. And although box-office numbers would probably be the last thing Mister Rogers would care about, the film raked in a respectable $35.7 million in its first 10 days in theaters.

Related: Sullivan Foundation sponsors Social Entrepreneurship Field Trip to Germany for faculty

A native of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Rogers graduated from Rollins in 1951. For the remainder of his life, he carried with him a photo of an engraved marble plaque, located near Strong Hall on the Rollins campus, that bore the motto, “Life is for Service.” Rogers’ list of activities at Rollins would likely surprise no one who ever watched his show. He served on the chapel staff, sang in the chapel and Bach choirs, and belonged to organizations such as the Community Service Club, the Student Music Guild, the Welcoming Committee and the After Chapel Club.

Although he shot “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” in Pittsburgh, Rogers and his wife, fellow Rollins College graduate Joanne Byrd Rogers, spent a part of their winters every year in a rented house in Winter Park, Fla., near Rollins College. He touched many lives in that neighborhood as well as in the fictional one he created for PBS.

“Some of my favorite childhood memories are from the time my family and I spent with Fred and Joanne Rogers having afternoon teas and piano concerts,” recalled Sara Patrick, Rollins’ Executive Assistant for Alumni Engagement, in a Rollins College website article published last year. “I was eight years old, and it was just like having him step out of ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ and into my home.”

“I’d see him walking to the chapel every day in winter,” recalled Daniel Parke, a 1997 Rollins College graduate, in an article in Rollins Magazine. “Every day. He’d take the time to stop and talk with students as if it were no big deal.”

Rogers was even known to drop by his old music department haunts and play piano for the students. “Uncle Fred would put his face up to the window of my music class, and everything would come to a stop,” remembered Rogers’ nephew, Dan Crozier, a music professor at Rollins College, in the Rollins Magazine article. “He’d walk in and say, ‘How are things in this neighborhood?’ The students were in awe.”

the real Mister Rogers receives medal

President George W. Bush presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award to Fred Rogers in 2002. Photo by Paul Morse, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library

Rogers was such a beloved figure that the school created the Mister Rogers Rollins College Self-Guided Walking Tour, offered year-round Tuesdays through Fridays, on the campus. Visitors can wander through Tiedtke Concert Hall, where a large portrait of Rogers hangs on the wall, and check out his stone in the Rollins Walk of Fame in front of Lyman Hall, his old dormitory. Additionally, Rogers’ famous sweater and sneakers are on view at Olin Library, along with a collection of other personal items, including letters and photos.

When Rogers received his honored spot in the Rollins Walk of Fame in 1991, the “low-key ceremony” didn’t quite go as planned, according to Joanne Rogers and Rita Bornstein, who was president of Rollins College at the time. “Fred was concerned about word getting out,” Joanne Rogers explained to Rollins Magazine. “He told Rita, ‘If you want me to spend time with the adults, then don’t make this an occasion for children. If children come, they’ll get first dibs.’”

Related: Sullivan Foundation announces Study Abroad in Scotland program for Summer 2020

To give everyone a chance to meet Rogers, Bornstein arranged for him to visit Rollins’ Child Development and Student Research Center. “Word got out,” Bornstein told Rollins Magazine. “Children came from everywhere. Girls were wearing princess dresses. Boys were all excited to see Mister Rogers. I thought, ‘Oh … my … God.’ … He did what only Fred could do. I have a picture from the ceremony of him surrounded by children—the children I was supposed to keep away.”

Rogers died of stomach cancer in 2003, but his legacy has never faded. A 2018 film about him, called “Won’t You be My Neighbor?” became the highest-grossing biographical documentary of all time. Its success was quickly followed up by “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” based on author Tom Junod’s experience with Rogers on assignment for Esquire magazine in 1998.

this photo shows Tom Hanks in the role of the real Mister Rogers

Tom Hanks plays Mister Rogers in the new film, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”

Hanks told Rollins Magazine that he had bounced ideas around with Marielle Heller, the movie’s director, for years, “but either my stuff didn’t gel with her or vice versa. Then she called me with ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.’ We agreed to shoot it as soon as I was available.”

Hanks was Rogers’ favorite actor, Joanne Rogers has said in press interviews. “The biggest shock of my life,” she told Rollins Magazine, “is when I heard Tom Hanks said ‘yes’ to being cast as Fred.”

Rogers passed away just weeks after serving as the Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade and tossing the ceremonial coin in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. But family members said Rogers had no fear of death. “He’d talk about how wonderful his next journey would be,” Joanne Rogers said.

“Our family had to share him a lot,” his son, John Rogers, told Rollins Magazine. “I’ve said he came as close as you can come to being Jesus Christ himself. It bothered me that I couldn’t measure up to him, until I was about 30 years old. He would have been the first to tell me, ‘Just be you.’”

Related: Sullivan Ambassador Lori Kaitlyn Babb aims to use social entrepreneurship and bioethics to “change the world”


Rethinking the Politics of Climate Change

Reducing carbon emissions is essential to the planet’s future, but politics has long stood in the way. It doesn’t have to be that way, according to Tim Profeta of Sullivan Foundation partner school Duke University. Profeta has proposed a solution to break the political stalemate on climate change, and he presented it to the people who need to hear it the most – members of Congress – in early December 2019.

Testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, Profeta, the director of Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and an associate professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy, recommended a model for addressing climate change that has worked for other environmental challenges: a federal/state partnership. He proposed that the federal government establish targets for reducing carbon emissions while empowering states to craft their own plans to meet those requirements.

Related: The pivotal role of youth fighting climate change

“There is no reason that such a federal/state partnership cannot work to address climate change as it has in numerous instances before,” Profeta wrote in his prepared testimony to the House subcommittee. “Given the political uncertainty of our ability to achieve any other alternatives, the urgency of climate change demands that we consider it as the path of least resistance to achieve our climate objectives.”

As the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, Profeta noted in an op-ed for The Hill, the U.S. is “fundamental to that solution … Yet despite some positive steps, U.S. emissions increased rapidly in 2018, in the face of warnings that emissions should be cut by 45 percent worldwide by 2030 to avoid worst-case scenarios.”

this photo shows young protesters calling for reducing carbon emissions in the environment

Young people around the world support reducing carbon emissions to fight climate change, but politics has stood in the way for decades. Photo by Li An Lim, Unsplash

“Meanwhile,” Profeta added in The Hill article, “political resistance has blocked the solution many economists favor: a single federal price on carbon, set through a cap-and-trade program or carbon fee.”

As an alternative, the federal government could set targets for reducing carbon emissions and let individual states meet the goals in their own ways.

“I propose using a federal-state partnership to attack climate change akin to the cooperative federalist approach that permeates much of our legal code,” Profeta told Duke Today. “In such a system, the federal government would set greenhouse gas goals for each state to ensure that all 50 states are moving forward. It would leave it to state governments, which are more directly accountable to their communities, to execute plans to reach those goals.

Related: How to have a more sustainable Christmas in 2019

This approach to reducing carbon emissions, he added, “allows leadership by states, which are more in touch with their people’s needs, avoids the specter of big federal government growth that other proposals suggest, and captures the momentum of state leadership on climate change that has been the biggest area of climate success in the past decade.”

He said this federal/state partnership model has already worked for education, policing and health care. “In environmental law, it is similarly common, for instance with national water permitting programs run through the states,” Profeta told Duke Today. “But the most direct comparison is with the Clean Air Act, where the EPA sets national standards for air quality but each state develops plans to reach those ambitions.  The Clean Air Act has been one of our most successful environmental statutes, dramatically cleaning the air over the past 50 years in a period of robust economic growth.”

Letting states, both red and blue, develop their own strategies for reducing carbon emissions would sidestep political conflicts, allowing states to “design policies that fit with their culture and economies,” Profeta wrote in The Hill. “States that already lead on climate change could align behind this proposal, while states that have been less aggressive would get flexibility on how to develop their own plans,” such as cap-and-trade systems, carbon taxes and other options.

According to the Nicholas Institute, more than 40 nations have implemented a carbon tax or trading system. In the U.S., California uses an economy-wide carbon cap-and-trade program. States in New England and the Mid-Atlantic, meanwhile, have formed a utility-sector trading regime called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“State governments have provided politically acceptable solutions to many societal problems through our country’s history,” Profeta concluded in The Hill. “We should embrace their role in the climate fight. This may be the best bet for success on one of our most dire and pressing societal challenges.”

Learning to Serve in Selma

The Sullivan Foundation is accepting applications for a unique opportunity that empowers college students to use the power of social entrepreneurship to combat poverty in the American South: The Selma Community Innovation Immersion Program, a partnership with the Edmundite Missions in Selma, Ala.

Participating students will spend three weeks in Selma, where they will work in coordination with the Edmundites and Sullivan Foundation partner school Judson College to support the development of social enterprise businesses throughout the region. Participating students will receive three hours of academic credit from Judson College.

The program runs from May 17-June 5, 2020. The deadline for applications is April 3. More information on the program and an application can be found here.

this photo illustrates the poverty that Edmundite Missions fights to overcome

Edmundite Missions has been fighting poverty in rural Alabama since the 1930s.

Selma has long been recognized for its role in the civil rights movement, but it continues to face grinding poverty and lack of economic opportunity. As of 2017, 38.3 percent of Selma’s residents had an income below the poverty level, far higher than the poverty level of 16.9 percent statewide, according to Nearly 30 percent of Selma’s high school graduates and 66.2 percent of non-high school graduates live in poverty. Selma ranked ninth in 24/7 WallStreet’s analysis of the poorest towns in America in 2018.

The Edmundite Missions, a Catholic organization, has been feeding the hungry and creating jobs in Selma and the surrounding region of Alabama since 1937. The ministry meets immediate needs by providing food, clothing and shelter for thousands of people. The Edmundites also offer mentorship, apprenticeships and educational programs for youth and adults, working to provide a pathway towards self-reliance. Its outreach area includes Butler, Dallas, Lowndes, Monroe, Perry and Wilcox counties in Alabama.

The Selma Community Innovation Immersion Program will immerse students in the Edmundites’ anti-poverty work, with a focus on:

The New Possibilities Youth Program: Developing a better way to track personal growth for students while mentoring middle-school participants.

The Nutrition + Food Program: Developing a better way to measure and track the nutritional effect of food programs in the community.

Social Enterprises: Developing an improved asset-based market analysis and marketing plan for Edmundite Missions Enterprises, especially Kitchens in Selma, a social enterprise that reinvests 100 percent of its net revenue into feeding the poor.

this photo shows the Edmundites Center of Hope operated by Edmundite Missions

The Edmundites Center of Hope serves meals and provides nutritional programs for children.

The Selma Community Innovation Immersion Program is ideal for students looking to put social entrepreneurial concepts into practice on behalf of the poorest Americans. Students will be expected to take initiative and work, self-directed at times, to best implement program ideas.

As part of its decades-long mission to combat poverty, the Edmundites Missions recently opened a new multimillion-dollar community recreation center in Selma. As Alabama News reported, the Dr. Michael and Catherine Bullock Community and Recreation Center offers a computer lab, weight room, office space, classrooms and a regulation-sized basketball court. It’s designed to serve as a hub for the many programs and services the Edmundite Missions provides to the community.

The center cost $3.2 million to build and will officially open in January.

“This is not only a beautiful facility, it’s a much-needed facility,” Archbishop Thomas Rodi told Alabama News. “We need something in Selma where young people will be able to have wholesome activities and be able to encounter good role models, and that’s what this facility will bring about.”