Thoughts from the scholars

Recent Rollins Sullivan Scholars reflect on the Sullivan spirit and how they plan to make a difference

Gaby Cabrera – Class of 2015

“I found Algernon Sullivan’s passion for helping those around him to be truly inspiring, and, while his story and circumstances are different than my own, I cannot help but feel a sense of similarity between us. I came to the United States in 1999, and, as of two years ago, I am finally a U.S. citizen. The journey was rough, and I want to help the organizations that helped my family through the legal system and helped my mom learn English. l would like to share my “secret” with the Hope Community Center in Apopka, Florida (the center that helped my family and me), as well as with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which helps my Mexican community members who work in the fields to strive for dignity and fair treatment.”


Courtney Durbin – Class of 2016

“Mr. Sullivan lived a life in which he included everyone, put others before himself, and was so incredibly selfless. While I do not think there is any amount of words to explain how grateful I am for being compared to living such a life as his, I try to live his way every single day. I know that I have so much more to do in my life to accomplish half of what Mr. Sullivan did, but it is my goal to live the best life possible every single day. A couple months ago, my uncle was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of an accident; this has changed the dynamics of our family entirely. I would like to share my Sullivan gift with the Center for Independent Living, so that they can help even more families overcome life-altering disabilities.”


Bethany Eriksen – Class of 2015

“What I admire most about Mr. Sullivan was his desire to help others and give back as much as he could to the world without being recognized for his work. In a world that often puts the spotlight on the superficial actions of people like celebrities, it is quite humbling and admirable to recognize the work of someone like Mr. Sullivan who did the right thing simply because it was the right thing to do. I hope to keep these values, exhibited by Mr. Sullivan, at the forefront of my own life, in an attempt to always strive to help others for the right reasons. I plan to use my “secret” anonymously to assist in the efforts of the Florida Farm Workers Association and the Ecuadorian campesino community of El Placer (who opened their homes to me while I studied abroad) through the NGO EcoMinga.”


Matthew Hendry – Class of 2015

“Mr. Sullivan was a man who believed in helping others with more than just one’s financial resources, but also with one’s talents and time. In turn I wish to do the same. I would like to share my Algernon Sydney Sullivan “secret” in the following two ways. The Ronald McDonald House Charities hold a very special place in my heart, because of exposing me to service at a young age, as they provided a home away from home when my little brother had health complications. In turn I would like to use the resources to help other families staying there feel the same way that I did growing up. I would also like to use some of the award on a mission trip to volunteer to work with people in need overseas, as it has always been a dream of mine to expand my horizons and step out of my comfort zone by going to experience the world abroad.”


Sabrina Kent – Class of 2015

“I believe that the greatest acts of kindness begin with empathy. Algernon Sydney and Mary Mildred Sullivan both shared the spirit of service—of recognizing that all people suffer in their own individual ways. My Sullivan gift has encouraged me to share in others’ suffering in an uplifting way. Thus far, we helped a friend rescue an abused, dying kitten, as she did not have the money needed to pay vet bills. In about four days the cat’s health turned around and we were able to find it a safe, happy home. A peer of mine wanted to attend a social justice conference a few months back, so I gave her some money from “a secret scholarship fund” and was able to pay the small difference that allowed her to go. She said the experience changed her life. Finally, I allocated some of my funds for thank-you cards when visiting Washington, DC to volunteer with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce—which has now extended to small random acts of kindness. Every time I use this money I feel empowered to make a positive change in someone else’s life. I carry the Sullivan spirit with me wherever I go.”

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