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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Transfer student, mother earns national fellowship

Tim W. Glass / Daily Wildcat Lisa Sullivan, one of 25 Woodrow Wilson Rockafeller Foundation scholarship recipients, is entering graduate school with $30,000 toward her education thanks to the scholarship. “I have what I call a rage at missed opportunies,” said Sullivan. When she becomes a teacher, Sullivan hopes to encourage young talented people to rise to their potential.

Lisa Montez Sullivan, a UA senior and single mother of four, has been awarded the Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color.

The fellowship, which aims to recruit and support individuals of color as K-12 public school teachers, is offered to students majoring in subjects like English, history, math and various sciences that could be applied toward a master’s degree in education.

Sullivan, who is studying English with a minor in psychology, was one of 25 students nationwide who earned the award. The UA nominated Sullivan for the award. She said she was both nervous and afraid when she found out she was one of the 39 finalists.

“She was almost surprised by her success,” said Karna Walter, director of nationally competitive scholarships for the Honors College. “I think those of us who worked with her along the way had great confidence in her ability to be successful.”

Walter helped Sullivan through the application process by looking at her essays, providing feedback and making sure her application was competitive.

Laura Lunsford, assistant professor of psychology at UA South and Sullivan’s mentor, worked with Sullivan on research projects and also worked with her through the process.

“Lisa is why I love my job,” Lunsford said. “In addition to being such a good thinker, she has an amazing personality. … She’s unconventional in a great way that I think is going to reach students.”

Sullivan said she aspires to teach on a reservation or in an inner-city school. Her passion for teaching comes from her anger about “opportunities that are taken away” from students because of their life situations, she said.

“There’s so many situations that … keep people who are truly intelligent from joining in this particular party,” Sullivan said. “I feel like every kid you see on the corner selling dope, he should have a business degree.”

Language barriers and poverty are among other circumstances that keep people from the opportunity of becoming educated, according to Sullivan.

“I want to be in the trenches,” Sullivan said. “I want to be where I’m needed most, where I can do the most good.”

As a mother of four, Sullivan decided to wait until her children were older before she continued her education. When her youngest was a freshman in high school in 2005, she decided to go back to college and started at Wayne State University in Detroit. She transferred to Pima Community College and the UA as a dual enrolled student in 2007.

Sullivan is the second UA student to be awarded the fellowship. Jessica Mejia was a recipient in 2011 when the UA became a nominating university.

“She (Sullivan) is a great representative of the University of Arizona,” Walter said.

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