Kayley Sullivan: Aiding local education

Media Credit: Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

It only took until Colonial Inauguration for Kayley Sullivan to make her first college decision that would scare her parents: changing her major from business to psychology.

“I had some resistance from my parents, because there’s a tone when you say you’re majoring in psychology: ‘Oh, what are you going to do with it?’ But I had the attitude of, ‘Oh, I’ll figure that out,’ ” Sullivan said.

Now a graduating senior with that same major, with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience and a minor in mind and brain studies, Sullivan’s figured it out by landing a job in education.

KIPP, short for “Knowledge is Power Program,” is a group of public charter schools that started in New York City and serves low-income communities across the country.

Sullivan, an Alexandria, Va. native, said she had never considered teaching at a traditional elementary school, but thought the KIPP schools offered a unique opportunity for her to make a difference.

“I found the reason KIPP is the dream company for me: working on an issue that’s working on closing the education gap in D.C. And when you look at trying to change the world, you can start with the problems in your own backyard,” she said.

Sullivan said most of her time at GW was consumed by athletics, as she was captain of the women’s soccer team this year. She also spent time tutoring for the District Youth Empowerment program at Maury Elementary and at Francis-Stevens Elementary through the College for Every Student program.

Sullivan also “tried her hand at research” with the American Psychological Association at George Mason University on a child development study, but found the scope of public impact too limiting.

After she lost out on a Fulbright fellowship to teach English in Ecuador, Sullivan was recommended to the KIPP program by a friend, and said she thinks this will be a better fit.

“KIPP’s whole theme is ‘Work hard, be nice,’ and the athlete in me loves that, because I don’t see any other way than giving yourself 100 percent of what you’re doing,” Sullivan said.u

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