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Steffi Kong, Winner of the Sullivan Award at Converse College, “Excels at Everything She Does”

Shi Qing “Steffi” Kong, a senior at Sullivan Foundation partner school Converse College, is no stranger to deadly viruses. As a child in Singapore, she survived SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) at the age of 7 and the H1N1 virus (better known as the swine flu) when she was 10.

“Of course, I am worried about getting [COVID-19],” she told GoUpstate.com in early May. “But I joke with my friends: Third time is a charm. Either I become a victim or maybe I potentially become superhuman.”

Related: Honors student who fed thousands and rape survivor advocate earn Sullivan Awards at The Citadel

We’re betting the latter. But whatever happens with the coronavirus – and here’s hoping she doesn’t get it – Kong will likely become a big success. Now a standout student-athlete and the Converse tennis team’s No. 1 singles player since 2016, Kong is also the recipient of the Sullivan Foundation’s prestigious Mary Mildred Sullivan Award for 2020. With her degrees in biochemistry and psychology in hand, Kong plans to attend medical school and ultimately practice psychiatry in the U.S.

“She’s a gem,” Katie Mancebo, Kong’s tennis coach at Converse, told GoUpstate.com. “I’ve never met someone who is harder-working or more disciplined. She just excels at everything she does. She’s probably every coach’s dream as a student-athlete.”

In April, Kong became the first student in Converse history to win the Murphy Osborne Scholar-Athlete Award, the highest academic award for a student-athlete in the Conference Carolinas.

“I am grateful to be given the opportunity to study in the United States and be able to have a different experience outside of continuing my education in Singapore,” Kong said. “It’s because of generous scholarships that I am able to attend Converse and accomplish great milestones.”

Related: Imani Belton, Gabriel Dias receive Sullivan Awards at Winthrop University

Sullivan Award winner Steffi Kong has presented her research at two national conferences and one international conference.

Kong has presented her research and publications at two national conferences and one international conference—a rare privilege for an undergraduate student. She made biophysics presentations at the Materials Research Society Fall Meeting & Exhibit in Boston in 2019 and the South Carolina IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence Science Symposium in Columbia, S.C. in 2020.

She also presented her psychology research at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Annual Convention in Atlanta in 2019. Dr. Marie LePage, one of Kong’s psychology professors at Converse, collaborated with her on the presentation. “On our way driving home from the Atlanta conference, she just lit up like a Christmas tree,” LePage told Conference Carolinas in a profile on Kong. “That’s special for a student to get that jazzed about therapy. She’s just genuinely passionate about it. She wants to be the best she can be. I’ve taught thousands of students, and she ranks among my top five in terms of being an advanced scholar. But when it comes to passion, she absolutely ranks No. 1.”

Related: UA Sullivan Award winner Malik Seals on a quest to cure multiple sclerosis

After her freshman year at Converse, Kong returned home for the summer and volunteered at a mental health institute. After her sophomore year, she interned at the Kidney Foundation in Singapore. Her senior honors thesis was titled, “Stress, Depression and Anxiety: The College Student Dilemma,” with a strong focus on the differences between student-athletes and non-student-athletes.

“I know she is very interested in medicine,” LePage said in the Conference Carolinas interview. “Whether she goes into psychiatry or general medicine … she will be exceptional.”

 

Davidson College Bestows Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award on Student With a Heart for the Homeless

A Davidson College graduating senior with a heart for helping the homeless and people in crisis received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for 2020.

Emily Duval earned her degree in Literacy and Multilingual Education at Davidson College, a Sullivan Foundation partner school. During her time at Davidson, Duval helped homeless women and children at the Crisis Assistance Ministries and the Salvation Army Center of Hope in Charlotte, N.C.

Related: Paxton Peacock, Natalie Conboy and Chris Nunn receive Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards at Auburn

She also befriended and treated people in financial crisis “with dignity, listening to their struggles with compassion,” the nomination letter read.

Duval was a Bonner Scholar, a Davidson College honor based on a student’s commitment to enriching the community through volunteering. She was also a QuestBridge Scholar and helped raise awareness on campus about socioeconomic diversity while providing support for high-achieving low-income students.

Additionally, Duval taught children in the LEARN Works after-school program at the Ada Jenkins Center and as a summer servant leader intern with Freedom Schools. She has volunteered at the Lula Bell Houston resource center and was co-coordinator for Be the Match/Project Life and for Room in the Inn.

Related: Sullivan Scholar Sara Busaleh: Serving others “gave me hope when I was hopeless”

She also served on the leadership team of the Davidson ecumenical weekly college worship service, leading prayers and reflections and using “her amazing voice to lead music and to build a spiritual community of inclusion, kindness and grace,” a nominator wrote.

Among her many accolades, Duval received the George Gladstone Memorial Award in 2019. This award recognizes rising seniors “exhibiting high potential for service to mankind as indicated by leadership, service and academic record.”

“Navigating the Unknown” Moves to Instagram Live With Alexis J. Taylor and Arshiya Kherani

The next installment of the Sullivan Foundation’s webinar series, “Navigating the Unknown,” features a pioneer in activewear for Muslim women and a passionate advocate for entrepreneurship who has been recognized by the U.S. State Department and the World Economic Forum.

In a change of venue, this webinar, which takes place at 12 p.m. (ET), Wednesday, April 8, will be streamed exclusively on Instagram Live. Arshiya Kherani of Sukoon Active and Alexis J. Taylor of the Global Entrepreneurship Network will join Spud Marshall, the Sullivan Foundation’s director of student engagement, for a discussion on the power of social entrepreneurship.

All webinars are recorded and can be viewed at any time at sullivanfdn.org/webinar.

Here’s more information about Wednesday’s guests:

Arshiya Kherani

Arshiya Kherani: The founder and CEO of Sukoon Active and a past facilitator and mentor at the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Retreat, Kherani designs activewear “for real women whose activewear needs aren’t being met by the current market.” Specifically, Sukoon Active offers activewear, including hijabs, for Muslim women who care about fitness and exercise. Although other brands offer hijabs designed for exercise, Sukoon is the only one founded by a Muslim woman. Launched with a Kickstarter campaign that raised $10,000 in its first nine days, Sukoon offers garments featuring sustainable, odor-blocking merino wool with eco-friendly mesh accents for maximum comfort and ventilation. As a social enterprise, Sukoon donates a percentage of its proceeds to the Zaatari Taekwondo Academy, a nonprofit in Jordan that teaches martial arts to Syrian refugee children. Kherani and her brand have been featured in Forbes, the Huffington Post and Allure, to name a few media outlets.

Alexis J. Taylor

Alexis J. Taylor: Taylor is director for global engagement at the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) and a past Ignite Retreat facilitator and mentor. In her role with GEN, she advocates for ecosystem builders and “all those who empower the world’s doers, makers and dreamers,” according to the GEN website. The Global Entrepreneurship Network operates a platform of projects and programs in 170 countries aimed at making it easier for anyone, anywhere, to start and scale a business. Taylor is the former CEO of Austin, Texas-based 3 Day Startup, a global entrepreneurship education program, which she helped scale to more than 500 programs and expanded to Australia, Southern Africa and the Middle East. Taylor has been recognized by the U.S. State Department and the World Economic Forum as a leader in empowering people and communities through entrepreneurship.

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 admin@sullivanfdn.org.

 

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 www.berry.edu.

 

 

 

Berry College Awards Its First Sullivan Scholarship

By Faythe Choate, Berry College Public Relations Student Assistant 

A freshman has been chosen as the first recipient of Berry College’s inaugural Sullivan Scholarship. Animal science major Hailey McMahon was recently awarded $10,000 annually for her four years of study at Berry.

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 has a passion for 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 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.”

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 www.berry.edu.