May 10, 2007
Gymnast Stephanie Sullivan has many role models in her life: her coaches, her teammates and her peers. All are people who have incredible dedication to what they do and the motivation to continue pursuing their goals. It is no surprise then that she has become quite the leader and role model herself.
Besides a passion for gymnastics, Sullivan has a passion for others. She has dedicated much of the past four years to participating in THON and working with Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED), the pre-med honor society of which she is president.
As president of AED, Sullivan oversees most of what the society does and often brings in various prominent individuals from the medical world to speak to society members. She also organizes and directs their service activities, one of which was the Blood Cup Challenge that she co-sponsored. In addition to acting as a sub-chair for the AED THON committee, she was a morale team member in 2006. Sullivan's favorite parts of THON are Slides of Strength and Mail Call, but her most memorable time at THON was being on the floor during the last four hours.
Stunned by the fact that more than 45 million Americans do not have health insurance, one of Sullivan's friends came up with the idea of a public health fair. Sullivan took the idea to heart, becoming the co-founder and director of Penn State's first Public Health Fair, which took place April 5. Between 25 and 30 organizations were scheduled to be at the fair. These organizations included academic and student organizations from on campus, local health schools and the free clinic located downtown.
In addition to all her service activities, classes, practice and meets, Sullivan has maintained a high GPA and was one of 61 women's gymnastics student-athletes across the country to earn a 4.0 last semester. All her hard work both in and out of the classroom has had big rewards for Sullivan as she was accepted into medical school at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. She is looking at going into primary care or public healthcare.
"I'm excited but also nervous," said Sullivan, who said that her acceptance into medical school was one of her greatest accomplishments thus far in addition to being the co-captain of the gymnastics team.
One may wonder where Sullivan has found the time to dedicate herself to gymnastics, academics and service. Her key to success she said is making sure she is going all day long instead of all night.
"Whenever I have down time, I'm doing something," said Sullivan. "I have to get more than eight hours of sleep every night and what's interesting, is that I actually do."
Sullivan, who was recently honored with the Ernest B. McCoy Memorial Award for success in athletics and academics, thrives off the passion of others. Simply seeing the motivation and dedication of her teammates, peers and coaches makes her want to work hard and be a part of whatever they are doing.
Others have taken notice of her passion, hardwork and leadership.
"Stephanie is a great leader in and out of the gym," said teammate Aslynn Satterfield. "She has always been the hardest worker I have ever met and has always inspired me to do great things and keep my hard work going."
Even with all her accomplishments and praise from others, Sullivan is down to earth and easy to talk with. One of the best pieces of advice she said she has received through the years is to never take one's self too seriously, and to never take any minute of athletics or life for granted.
People may think that Sullivan is a superwoman, being able to manage all her commitments successfully. It is second nature to Sullivan and she believes that anyone can do the same.
"I think a lot of athletes think they can't do sports, community and school all at once and succeed," she said.
Sullivan has proved that assumption wrong. She has made it clear that a person, athlete or not, can accomplish whatever it is they put their heart, mind and soul into.