Sullivan Award Winners Serve the Community

May 14, 2009 — Each year, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation sponsors the presentation of awards at 54 colleges in the southeastern United States to individuals who have served others, their institutions and their wider communities.

This year's Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards recipient —Jason Michael Franasiak, a graduate medical student; Tamira Dawn Roberson, an undergraduate; and Carol Wood, assistant vice president for public affairs for the University — have contributed to the University of Virginia through tireless dedication, compassion of others and tremendous creativity.

For information on the Sullivan awards, visit www.sullivanfdn.org/awards.asp.

Jason Michael Franasiak

Franasiak, 26, of Chesapeake will receive his medical degree Sunday. He said he viewed the Sullivan award as "a huge honor. I feel very humbled by the recognition."

"He is an intellectually gifted student with an outstanding record of leadership and academic accomplishments," said Dr. Richard D. Pearson, associate dean of student affairs at the School of Medicine, in his recommendation letter.

Franasiak received his undergraduate degree in biology from the College of William & Mary, where he was involved in many activities, including volunteering as an emergency medical technician for the Williamsburg Fire and Rescue Squad and at a hospital.

Since attending U.Va., Franasiak has been president of the Mulholland Society – the Medical School's student government – and graduate adviser to the One-in-Four all-male sexual assault education program.

He is also founding member of U.Va.'s chapter of Building Tomorrow: Destination Kampala, which assists in building local schools in Uganda, mostly with money and sometimes with labor.

"We want to raise funds, but we also want to raise awareness," he said.

He was named a Bowman Scholar, an honor that recognizes students who show outstanding clinical skills, as well as integrity, enthusiasm and compassion during clinical clerkships. He was also elected to Alpha Omega Alpha, the Gold Humanism Honor Society, the Raven Society, the National Pathology Honor Society and Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership society.

Pearson cited Franasiak's community involvement as part of the reason for his endorsement.

"He has demonstrated exceptionally strong leadership skills, an abiding commitment to community service and genuine devotion to the welfare of others," Pearson said.

Franasiak said he entered medicine partly because his father is a doctor and his mother a nurse. "I enjoyed the thought of practicing medicine," he said.

After graduation, he will start a four-year residency at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in obstetrics and gynecology. He said he also wants to pursue oncology and surgical work.

Franasiak said he enjoys his community service efforts.

"Overall, what I have done has been really fun and it has led to a balanced life," he said.

Tamira Dawn Roberson

Roberson, 21, of Virginia Beach is a fourth-year foreign affairs major with a sociology minor. She said her ultimate goal is to be a juvenile-court judge.

"I have a passion for working with children and I have an enjoyment of working with the law," she said.

Tabitha A. Enoch, director of orientation and new student programs, for whom Roberson has worked, praised her strength as a leader.

"Tamira has emerged as one of our premier student leaders on Grounds, serving as an orientation leader, Newcomb Hall manager, service chair for the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, a member of the IMP Society – and the list goes on," Enoch said.

Roberson has also participated in many other activities, including being a Class of 2009 trustee, coaching a fifth-grade girls basketball team at the YMCA, volunteering with 'Hoos for Homelessness through Madison House, serving on the Public Service Advisory Board and participating in the Atlantic Coast Conference Leadership Conference.

Roberson was honored and humbled by the award. "Every day I walk by so many great people," she said.

She said she strives to do work for people because she wants to give back to the community.

Fellow students also praise her.

"She doesn't get lost in the details, and her ability to think on her feet and be optimistic always brings a sense of composure to a panicked situation," Kimberly Sine, Ryan Bugas and Patrick McGettigan wrote in a letter of recommendation.

After graduation, Roberson plans to start law school in 2010. In the interim, she wants to work in the circuit court system in Washington, D.C.                                  

Since 1934, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation has taken as its primary mission the inspiring of young people to lead lives of integrity, characterized by service above self and service to the community. One of those ways is presenting awards to graduating college seniors who have distinguished themselves in service to others and service to the community.

Carol Wood

Carol Wood, "consistently goes beyond what is expected for the good of the University and especially its students," said Patricia M. Lampkin, vice president and chief student affairs officer.

Lampkin cited Wood's natural concern for the people around her and her efforts to help students in difficult circumstances.

"She puts a very human face on a sometimes large University," Lampkin said. "She has changed lives and made this University a better place."

"There is no person who works more selflessly than Carol Wood," said Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the University. "Whether on all-night duty through Hurricane Isabel, mentoring young reporters or helping her colleagues in crisis, if an issue involves our students, employees or community, Carol is there." 

Wood said she was surprised that she was chosen to receive a Sullivan Award.

"This award is one that I have always believed to be of great value in our community and previous recipients are all colleagues I have admired," she said. "Several have been informal mentors to me and I have tried over the years to emulate them. To receive this award was never an expectation for me. To say that I am deeply honored is an understatement."

Wood thought about how her mother, who died in February, would have received the news.

"She would have peppered me with a million questions about it and wanted to know every detail," Wood said. "My son, who graduated from the University in 2000, thought it was very cool."

Wood's colleagues praised her for the guidance she has provided for her co-workers and students.

"Whether helping someone's family plan a memorial service, working with donors on the appropriate announcement of their gift, advising Cavalier Daily editors on a question of journalistic ethics or prepping a faculty member on how to be interviewed about a difficult issue, she devotes herself completely to whoever is in need," said Louise M. Dudley, retired director of University Relations. "She is available to them at all hours, never too busy to return a phone call or sit with someone for as long as necessary."

The editors of the Cavalier Daily, the student newspaper, recognized Wood's mentoring in 1998, when they awarded her a "Pink Flamingo," marking the best and the worst of the year.

"The How Could We Live Without You Award goes to Carol Wood for tirelessly dealing with our pesky ways (and for serving such good food)," they wrote in an editorial.

"Although she exerts much influence, a good deal of her work is done in the background and out of the limelight," Sandridge said. "That is why it's so fitting that she should be publicly recognized by this prestigious award."

Wood has been part of the University community since 1995, when she became the director of news services.

Before starting with the University, she served as vice president of The Virginian-Pilot & The Ledger-Star in Norfolk, which were owned by Landmark Communications. She had also served as director of corporate communications at Landmark, assistant managing editor of The Virginian-Pilot & The Ledger-Star and executive editor of Antique Trader Publications.

At. U.Va., Wood has been inducted into the Raven Society and received a Harrison Award for exceptional teaching and leadership.

"Carol Wood represents the high ideals the Sullivan Awards stand for," said Alexander "Sandy" Gilliam, the former secretary to the University's Board of Visitors. "She provides unselfish service to the University community."

Dudley seconded this.

"The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award is meant to honor 'the angels among us,'" she said.  "That is the perfect description of Carol Wood."

— By Matt Kelly