Bod Magazine: Sharon Sullivan enlightens WU students

Natalie Engler STUDENT MEDIA

Originally from north Texas, Sharon Sullivan was from a single-parent working-class family. She dropped out of high school her senior year. For several years, she worked in restaurant management. While working, she attended community college where she received her GED. It was then when Sullivan realized she wanted to do more than just work in the restaurant business.

Sullivan then moved to Massachusetts where she attended Smith College and received a bachelor’s degree in theatre. Sullivan later received her master’s degree at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She then received her doctorate from the University of Kansas in dramatic history literature criticism and a graduate certificate in women’s studies.

Sullivan was encouraged by a friend to apply to Washburn University as an adjunct professor. She has been teaching at Washburn for 15 years in the theatre department as well as serving as chair of the women’s and gender studies department.

“Teaching, to me, is hard work but it is a privilege,” Sullivan said.

At Washburn, Sullivan became the faculty advisor for the student-run organization STAND. The organization challenges the stereotypes of society, empowers students and brings awareness to social justice issues.

Sullivan was the primary organizer of Take Back the Night which was held in October 2015, which drew dozens of people from the Topeka community to Washburn’s campus in support of sexual assault survivors.

Sullivan believes that Washburn provides opportunities for professors and students. For example, Washburn recently received a federal grant from United States Department of Justice to combat sexual violence on campus. Bystander training will be available through this grant and students are encouraged to participate.

Sullivan encourages students to dream big and go for it. She believes that the way you live your life with few regrets is simply by trying.

“You learn as much from failure as you do from success,” Sullivan said.

This is an article from the Spring/Summer 2016 Bod Magazine. Pick up your FREE copy today WITH additional content in front of the Student Media Office located on the lower level of Memorial Union.