When you’re having a one-on-one conversation with former Vice President Joe Biden about how you can continue taking your work to the next level, you’re probably doing some good work.
That’s certainly been the case for St. Thomas first-year business administration major Michael Sullivan, who recently was named a Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow thanks to his years-long efforts toward ending sexual assault. Joining peers from schools such as Stanford, Yale, Dartmouth and Notre Dame, Sullivan will receive training and resources over his sophomore year to help develop strategies to achieve social change.
“Like many of the changemakers who came before him, Michael is passionate about solving community problems,” President Julie Sullivan said in her nomination. “I strongly believe he will make a tremendous impact.”
Sullivan is building on a foundation that dates back to his high school years in Hibbing, where he spearheaded a lip-sync music video campaign to empower women and “show that men can step up and help change the culture of sexual assault and domestic violence.” The videos went viral with more than 100,000 views, and helped Sullivan realize this is an area where he can make a difference.
That aforementioned one-on-one with Biden helped as well, especially in strengthening Sullivan’s desire to step up his efforts at St. Thomas.
“Many people use the freshman year as a year to get acclimated to the campus, but I got this idea, ‘Why not hit the ground running?’ from the [St. Thomas] Freshmen Innovation Immersion program,” Sullivan said. “The support I have received from St. Thomas has made it such a positive experience as a changemaker, and made creating change all for the common good part of who I am.”
One of Sullivan’s first steps as a Tommie has been to recruit students interested in launching a campus chapter of “It’s on Us,” a national movement started in 2014.
“Ending sexual assault is something that we all can play a role in,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan will be recognized along with other Minnesota Campus Compact award winners on April 19 at Hamline University, including senior Mohamed Malim, Associate Professor and Bachelor of Social Work program Director Dr. Katharine Hill, and community partners Gayle Godfrey and the behavioral health staff at Regions Hospital.
"The Center for the Common Good is very proud of Michael’s accomplishments and we are excited to see his passion ignite others as he works tirelessly for the common good," said Theresa Ricke-Kiely, director of the Center for Common Good. "He offers a great example of how a student can educate their peers and contribute to meaningful change. We look forward to seeing his impact as he flourishes during his time here at St Thomas."