Rhodes Scholar CDT Isabella Sullivan ’24 Credits Student-Athlete Experience at West Point for Life-Changing Opportunities

Categories: Cadet News, Academics, Athletics
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Before CDT Isabella Sullivan ’24 could imagine penning an essay on how she wanted to change the world, she had to transform herself and learn what she was capable of.

Her experience as a Volleyball student-athlete at West Point was the perfect conduit to this development and realization, leading to incredible experiences and honors. Most notably, Sullivan was selected as one of 32 American Rhodes Scholars in the Class of 2024. Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford.

As part of the rigorous selection process, applicants must write a 750-word personal statement on their life story and how they want to impact the world through the program. Sullivan’s statement focused on her passion to converge two fields of study — early childhood education and public policy — to help de-escalate the rise in polarization around diversity issues.

“I think education is a huge asset,” Sullivan said. “It’s so hard to try to make this intervention later in life. It’s really lofty, but Rhodes is supposed to be lofty. I’m really hopeful to be able to contribute in some way to this de-escalation of this polarized conflict that we see in so many global communities today.”

CDT Isabella Sullivan ’24 on Army Volleyball team

Sullivan contributed in similar ways to the West Point community, with a focus on holistic development of her fellow cadets and teammates. She developed a cultural competency training program that was ultimately adopted into Cadet Basic Training for the class of 2025. As a two-year Volleyball Captain, Sullivan also facilitated team character education sessions and led the development of the team values: grace, grit and growth.

“Being a student-athlete at West Point has had a heavy hand on fostering me into the person I am today, the leader I want to be and the values I hold,” said Sullivan, whose father was an West Point graduate and whose mother also served in the Army. “Playing a Division I sport here at West Point, being a part of the athletics program is so cool because so much of what you learn as an athlete … really translates over into being in the Army, like the value of being on a team, how to take care of your teammates, how attentive you are, this pursuit of excellence, the resilience required.”

As she approaches the end of her time as a cadet, Sullivan said it’s hard to believe some of the accomplishments and experiences she’s enjoyed. She remembers early on admiring cadets like 1LT Tyrese Bender ’21, a Rhodes Scholar and former track and field athlete, and 1LT Simone Askew ’18, the first African American female to be selected as a Rhodes Scholar from West Point. Sullivan never thought something like that was possible for her, though. She’s learned that self-limitations at West Point can be quickly erased.

“The support we receive here at West Point is just kind of immense. You’re surrounded by people who not only pursue excellence themselves, but they also really encourage you to do the same, and they want to pull you along with them,” she said. “My teammates are absolutely amazing. Without their support, I wouldn’t really be able to have the success that I do today.”

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Excerpt and image taken from https://www.ncaa.org.

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