“If there’s something you want to do, just go out there and do it.”
It’s what Jeannie Sullivan says — and does. She spent six days “knee-deep in whale” with a team of volunteers when a blue whale washed up on southern Oregon’s Ophir Beach. The necropsy — an animal autopsy — was Sullivan’s chance to work with the world-renowned whale expert who inspired her to move all the way from Buffalo, New York, to attend Oregon State: Bruce Mate, director of the university’s Marine Mammal Institute.
“Sometimes you have to get outside of your comfort zone because that’s where you learn the most about yourself,” says Sullivan, a senior majoring in agricultural sciences with minors in speech communication and leadership.
Sullivan is constantly pushing boundaries. She immersed herself in the cultures of 15 nations through the Semester at Sea program, and she says it was such a great experience that she’s doing it again with a new slate of countries to visit.
On campus, Sullivan is a mentor for the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), which focuses on bringing underrepresented students to the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math.
“Not a lot of students of color go into STEM,” she says. “I really want to help other students realize they can do this.”
In LSAMP, Sullivan found a community, one that helped her realize how powerful it is to be an African American woman in STEM and convinced her to pursue a career in advising or recruiting at the university level.
Sullivan also works as an ambassador for the Office of Admissions. On tours, she encourages potential students to explore their options when choosing a new activity, meeting people or planning a career.
“Don’t say you can’t do something. You can always do something,” Sullivan says.
She’s done plenty.