By Jonathan Black

Duke University recently honored the altruism of staff member Anika Lucas and students John Amodeo and Tatayana Richardson with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards.

The awards recognize one graduating senior and members of the faculty, staff or graduate student body or Duke University Health System for outstanding commitment to service.

Provost Sally Kornbluth and Leslie Parkins, assistant vice president and director for civic engagement, honored the recipients during a virtual ceremony earlier this month. Parkins and Kornbluth cited the winners’ deep dedication to caring for others and making the world a better place.

“This award is presented to individuals who exhibit qualities of selflessness, service, character, integrity and depth of spirituality,” Kornbluth said. “These are exceptional members of our community.”.

This year’s recipients were chosen by two Duke selection committees who review nominations and recommend honorees to the Office of the Provost.


John Amodeo

John Amodeo
Ph.D. Student, Duke University School of Medicine’s Program in Cell and Molecular Biology

The Sullivan Award committee selected John Amodeo for his generosity of service in a short time at Duke. Amodeo, who began his Ph.D. program in the fall of 2020, has been a steady presence at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic in the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center. He arranges transportation, logs patient information and manages traffic flow. Amodeo is also a leader in Duke’s Biosciences Collaborative for Research Engagement team, a graduate student program designed to unify Duke’s bioscience community. He helps celebrate and promote diversity through the program with outreach events, fundraisers and social gatherings for individuals from underrepresented communities.

“Although it may seem unusual to recommend a student who so recently matriculated at Duke, John has already distinguished himself at Duke in so many dimensions,” Beth A. Sullivan, associate dean for research training for Duke Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, said in her nomination.

Outside of Duke, Amodeo co-leads a bible study that provides emotional, physical and spiritual support. He also teaches in a children’s ministry that provides free childcare for families in Durham.

“Much to Duke’s credit, there is an astounding number of opportunities to serve and support others,” Amodeo said. “This allows me to live my convictions and to pursue self-sacrifice, service and spirituality.”


Tatayana Richardson

Tatayana Richardson
Duke University Senior

Tatayana Richardson, a senior majoring in religious studies and African and African American studies, helps Duke students and students in Durham achieve academic and personal success.

Richardson is part of the Duke Peer Advising Program, where she helps first and second-year students form mentoring relationships with faculty, navigate online course registration and decide on academic interests. She designs lesson plans, meets weekly with local students and leads a book club on Black and Latinx writers for Duke’s North Carolina LiteracyCorps, a statewide consortium helping with the educational needs of local communities.

Richardson also delivered the student sermon at Duke University Chapel in March.

“Remarkably reflective, her passion for justice, brilliant mind and steadfast commitment to an expansive vision of the beloved community have made her a prominent leader at Duke,” Jennifer Knust, professor of religious studies, wrote in her nomination. “Tatayana’s selflessness, generosity, integrity and spiritual depth are readily apparent to us and to so many.”

Richardson’s passion for faith-based activism took her to the U.S.-Mexico border in 2019. While there, she researched the difficulties of migration, discussed LGBTQ+ immigrant rights and learned about immigration rights and laws. “I will forever be grateful for this honor,” Richardson said. “Thank you to my community, who have made it possible to be the awesome human being I am today.”

Dr. Anika Lucas

Dr. Anika Lucas
House Staff, Duke Department of Medicine’s Nephrology Division

Dr. Anika Lucas combines passions for medicine and theology to help people around the world. As a chair for Duke’s Women in Nephrology Group, Lucas has fostered mentoring programs and hosted speakers talking to the group about women’s health. Lucas also served on the American Society of Nephrology Diversity and Inclusion Committee, where she helped with implicit bias training for nephrologists.

“In both her personal and professional life, she exudes a sense of optimism and purpose that inspires those around her to be better doctors, better parents and better people,” said Duke faculty Matthew A. Sparks, Christina M. Wyatt, Myles Wolf and Ruediger W. Lehrich in their nomination.

Lucas has taught elementary school students in underserved areas of Detroit and planned voter registration and smoking cession campaigns around Philadelphia. She also traveled to Kenya to build a dormitory and lecture on kidney disease, stress management and healthy living.

“This trip solidified my dual callings for medical and spiritual care,” Lucas said. “I’m honored and challenged to improve the lives of others.”


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