Hometown: Riverdale, IL
high school: Thornton Township HS
college: University of Michigan
While still in her mother’s womb, it was prophesized that Brianna Sullivan would be a blessed and gifted child. Growing up, she has been nothing less than that. She has always had a smile that could light up any room and eyes that show much triumph. With Brianna’s mother having a mental illness and father never being around, she has never had a relationship with either of her parents. This might have hindered many, but she uses her situation to her advantage.
Left to grow in the care of her loving and supportive grandmother in the near south suburbs of Chicago since 2005, Brianna has found inspiration to try her best at everything that she does. Her grandmother, Ms. Deborah Berry, provides boundless love, daily motivation, and consistent support for her. She encouraged Brianna and taught her that she had the ability to accomplish anything that she set her heart and mind on. The child listened and tried hard to be successful, only to discover that what she had been told was true. The only limits we have are those we place on ourselves. Brianna sees her grandmother as living proof that no matter the hardships that life presents, one can still be successful through faith.
Brianna’s friends have dubbed her the “Energizer Bunny” because she has an inability to remain idle. She has been in constant motion as an active member of athletic teams, clubs, and community service groups. She has played hard in varsity softball and volleyball. She has learned to speak with confidence as a member of the Speech Team. She has earned her pharmacy technician certificate in the Pre-Pharmacy Club. She has tested her political skills as a member of the Senior Senate. And she has learned about integrity and community service as a member of the National Honor Society. Even with this frenetic pace, Brianna has maintained a 4.6 weighted GPA and earned the position of valedictorian of her senior class.
If asked what which of her accomplishments she is most proud of, Brianna would not relate any stories of academic or athletic achievements. Instead, Brianna would say that she is most proud of simply beating the odds. All around her, are students who have similar stories. Like her, they were raised in poverty with a lack of parental involvement in their lives. Many have or will submit to those difficulties and choose to surrender rather than fight. But Brianna is a conqueror and is determined to prosper. Her constant victory has motivated her peers to also exceed the expectations of others.
Intelligence alone does not make a person extraordinary; along with brains, a person must have great reserves of strength, determination, and ambition. Brianna’s gift is that she knows that this combination holds the key to success in her personal and professional lives. Through struggle, she has found the entry to a better life and now, she is on her way to unlock it.