Provost Alec D. Gallimore with Sullivan Award winners Colleen Scott, Adrienne Jones and Elaijah Lapay. On right is Domonique Redmond

The Sullivan Award: Honoring Three Who Aid Others at Duke and in the Community

Sullivan Award Nominees

Many strong candidates were nominated by members of the Duke community for their record of serving others. Here are the other finalists for the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award:

Faculty and Staff
Henry Edmonds
Jeanine Holland
Jessica Reveal
Nancy Crego
Nazli Meltem Yucel
Scott Brummel
Warren Kinghorn
Graduate/Professional Student (House Staff included)
Catherine Ehrhart
Gavin Gonzales
Margaret Weber
Violet Beaty
Undergraduate Senior Student
Ashley Bae
Chloe Nguyen
Rashad Rahman

Elaijah Lapay

Elaijah Lapay

In both academic study and volunteer work, Lapay explored pressing social issues and improving the lives of others. In the community, he served as a leader for Root Causes’ Fresh Produce Program, which was founded by Duke medical students to bring healthy food to people in need and by addressing the social and economic causes of hunger.

Lapay’s work in Bass Connections, Duke Service-Learning and the Duke-Margolis Institute for Health Policy also built his connections with multiple groups across Durham, including various food pantries, the Lincoln Community Health Center and organizations assisting assisting immigrant and refugee families.

“Elaijah’s commitment to community is also recognized by community partners. His deep connection to Durham and his dedication to service reflect his genuine passion for making a difference in the lives of others,” said Kathy Sikes, director of Duke Service Learning, who was one of his nominators.

At the Sullivan ceremony, Lapay thanked his many mentors at Duke in both English and Spanish, but he also spoke directly to his parents and grandmother, speaking in Bisaya, the language of their native Philippines. They drove to the ceremony from Greenville, N.C., where they live.

“In a lot of ways, what I have done has been in service to what I believe my parents have wanted to understand in the world, even if it wasn’t thought to be possible,” Lapay said. “I have served through understanding and through being with people. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of learning has happened, in so many ways in classes and coursework, in knowing the language of how academics speak, during my time at Duke. But my most fortunate service to the communities that I have come to know in the Duke and Durham community, at least my proudest contributions, have been through being able to understand what matters, what drives being, and what helps others understand that as well.”

Adrienne Jones

Throughout her academic career, Adrienne Jones has demonstrated a deep passion for mentoring and supporting students at all levels.

Adrienne Jones
Adrienne Jones

Jones showed this through her work with Bass Connections, her role as assistant residence coordinator in undergraduate residence halls and her leadership as a teaching assistant in public policy courses.

“Adrienne consistently demonstrates a passion for shepherding students and colleagues, nurturing their personal and professional hopes and aspirations while maintaining an eagerness to grow and learn alongside the communities she provides service to,’ said Max Whelan, a master of theology student who worked with Jones in residence life. Whelan and others offered many examples of Jones encouraging and advising students and deescalating conflicts.

Beyond her mentorship, Jones was cited for her teaching skills that engaged students. One nominator said that he heard many students say Jones was her favorite teacher of the semester. “Her teaching has prepared a generation of Duke students to address some of the world’s most pressing issues,” said Warren Lowell, a graduate student colleague.

Upon receiving the award, Jones credited her parents with teaching her that “we don't have to do life alone because we have one another” and said she tried to live her life by the principles of helping others advance together.

“Graduate School is not easy,” she said. “I want to be a person who can offer kindness, thoughtfulness and engagement in times that sometimes are the most difficult. Other students have offered those for me, and I am more than happy to share the same with my community as well. I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of a community that is so thoughtful and so kind and think so highly of me.”

Colleen Scott

Scott, director of the Baldwin Scholars Program since 2014, received the award for faculty and staff. In the past decade, her leadership has strengthened one of the university’s leadership programs and has served “as a beacon of inspiration for countless female-identified undergraduate students,” Gallimore said.

Colleen Scott
Colleen Scott

In nominating Scott, several students shared how valuable Scott was in helping them navigate through campus life. Many cited her ability to allow them to find their own personal approach to leadership and for encouraging their creativity and intellectual curiosity.

“She is one of the main reasons why I applied to be a Baldwin Scholar: her warm energy was infectious during my interview, and it was very clear from the start that she is an extremely selfless person. She embodies the word ‘empowerment’ and has put in so much work to ensure that all of us young woman scholars are able to be our best selves,” said Sasha Rhee, Baldwin Scholar Class of 2027.

Outside of the Baldwin program, Scott has guided the university community in promoting equity, equal opportunity and inclusion of women at a moment when they are under challenge from others. “I have tried to shape my own career and the way that I treat the people I interact with most—undergraduate students—with the insights that I’ve gleaned from Colleen over the years: empower them to live out their values; describe to them the wonderful characteristics that you see in them, especially when they do not see it themselves; show up as your authentic self to engender space for others to show up authentically; celebrate small wins; and most simply, be courageously kind and generous,” said Candis Watts Smith, interim vice provost for undergraduate education.

Scott came to Duke in 1998 working in residential life. She joined the Baldwin program in its inaugural year of 2004 and became director a decade later.

At the awards ceremony, Scott said it had been rewarding to assist young women develop into leaders. “I attribute Baldwin’s success to Shine Theory,” Scott said. “Shine Theory … reflects this simple idea: ‘If you shine, we shine.’  The default is collaboration, not competition.  Shine Theory allows us to create allies and learn from them. It rejects the notion that there is only room for one of us at the table where important decisions are made.”