BOD MAGAZINE – Sharon Sullivan inspires students – DO NOT PUBLISH

Natalie Engler

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 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 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.

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.