Teresa Sullivan has the uncanny ability to motivate people to action.
The senior, whose passions include community activism and service, founded St. Louis Project Democracy and helped register more than 1,000 new voters before the Nov. 2 presidential election.
“Project Democracy showed me that I could build something from scratch and that I could find the right people around me to help me build it,” Sullivan says. “It really showed me how to build the bridge between service and activism.”
The Aurora, Ill., native majored in international and area studies and in Spanish, both in Arts & Sciences. She was also involved in Cambios, a volunteer organization that helps tutor and mentor Latino immigrant youth; the Visions Gospel Choir; More Fools Than Wise madrigal choir; and Dance Marathon.
In addition, she was:
- a residential adviser in Wheeler Hall;
- a member of Congress of the South 40;
- an Office of Student Activities and Residential Life intern;
- an orientation assistant;
- an English as a second language tutor; and
- an undergraduate representative to the University’s Board of Trustees.
“I guess you could say I’ve had the WUSTL buffet,” Sullivan jokes. “I think there’s so much to take in here, and I’m trying to do as much as I can.”
Despite being so heavily involved outside the classroom, the Danforth Scholar and National Merit Scholar will graduate summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a grade-point average of 3.83.
Leading up to Commencement, Sullivan has been working as a development and communications intern at the International Institute of St. Louis. After today, she will take on an internship in the services department at Motorola Corp. in Schaumburg, Ill.
She will be return to St. Louis in September to begin a nine-month Coro Fellowship in public affairs.
Her ultimate career goal is to run political campaigns or to be the executive director of an advocacy organization that works with immigrants or international women’s issues.
“I’ve always been interested in immigration issues,” she says. “My parents raised me with an international consciousness. They are very worldly people.
“Many of my experiences here have helped expand that interest, especially working with Cambios.”
Another of those experiences was a semester spent studying in Spain during her junior year.
Arts & Sciences
“Being in Spain really forced me to step back from being over-involved in my life at Washington University and to focus more on my relationships with my friends,” she says. “It taught me a lot about enjoying life and taking what comes your way and dealing with it.
“The experience helped me to know myself because I was forced to live in a completely foreign — in so many aspects of the word — environment.”
Back home, Sullivan describes the University as “a perfect fit.”
“I think the people here, while they certainly are smart and talented and focused on academics, are also just really good people,” she says. “I honestly think some of the friends I’ve made will leave here and go change the world.
“To come to a place and meet that many people who are going to have that big an influence on the community is truly amazing.”
Sullivan has been recognized for her leadership, scholarship and service to the community by receiving a 2005 Ethan A.H. Shepley Award. She also received a Women’s Society Leadership Award.
“Teresa is one of the most engaging student leaders I have known at the University,” says Stephanie Kurtzman, director of community service. “She does more than get things done — she inspires and energizes people to be involved in the process. Her leadership of St. Louis Project Democracy is a shining example, but not an isolated one, of the way she acts on her passions in a thoughtful and substantive way.
“Teresa is truly a delightful person to know, and I found her — even in her first year at the University — to be mature ahead of her years.”
While Sullivan is excited to be graduating and putting her education to use in the working world, she said she will be somewhat sad to leave the University.
“I love the people here,” she says. “They inspire me to be a better me.”
Return to Gallery of Graduates.