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King University Recognizes 2024 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award Recipients

April 27, 2024

King University is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2024 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

First presented in 1890 and awarded annually by more than 70 colleges and universities throughout the South, the award honors graduating students and community members for their high standards of character, integrity, and service, and for their commitment to creating positive change in their communities.

This year’s awards were presented to community recipient Jim White and students Emilie Kaczka and Alexis Wynn during today’s commencement ceremony.

Jim White

Jim White, a native of Bristol, Tennessee, served in the Tennessee National Guard and worked for more than three decades at Holston Army Ammunitions Plant in Kingsport, Tennessee. After retiring, he began devoting time to the Bristol Emergency Food Pantry, whose mission is to end hunger in Bristol by “organizing food, information, and support for community survival and dignity.” He has provided support to the Pantry for more than 25 years, serving for 15 of those as director.

“One of the most remarkable times in Jim’s service at the Food Pantry was during COVID restrictions,” said Bill Linderman, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and chair of the mathematics and physics departments at King. “Many of the pantry’s volunteers are retired persons who are only available to work limited hours. Instead of closing the pantry until it was safe, Jim worked with First Presbyterian Church and other churches in the area to recruit and train new volunteers who were less at risk of contracting COVID. In this way, and with some risk to himself, Jim made sure that the resources of the Food Pantry remained available to the Bristol community during a very challenging time.”

DeVonne Phipps, Executive Director of Bristol Faith in Action, also supported White’s nomination for the Sullivan award.

“Jim is a pillar of our community, especially when it comes to community service and caring for the least of these,” Phipps said. “He has worked at Bristol Faith in Action since its inception in 2001 and remains an exemplary volunteer.”

Emilie Kaczka ’24

Emilie Kaczka ‘24 is from Bristol, Tennessee, earning her bachelor of arts degree in history with a minor in secondary education. In addition to her activities on campus, she is active in her church and has been a staunch advocate for her family during a difficult time.

The Sullivan Award recognizes “high qualities which ennoble and beautify living, binding people together in mutual love and helpfulness,” and Emilie has been praised by faculty for these qualities in her time at King.

Kyle Osborn, Ph.D., assistant professor of history, said Emilie is “diligent in her work, thoughtful in her class discussions, and empathetic in both her analysis of history and her consideration of opposing views. She embodies the best values of King and of Christian liberal arts education. She shows the moral character, the intellectual curiosity, and the empathetic perspective that King, at its best, strives to encourage among all community members.”

Donna Watson, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education, added that Emilie “shines with the light of Christ in all her encounters. As a student, she thinks deeply and critically about her responses and presentations, always seeking to understand all people in their various circumstances. Her classmates benefit from her freely given encouragement and support, and she is poised to become an outstanding teacher, willing to dive into difficult subjects with grace and insight.”

Alexis Wynn ’24

Alexis Wynn ‘24, a native of Waynesville, Ohio, graduated King on Saturday with her bachelor of arts in elementary education. As an undergraduate at King, her peers say she has embodied the qualities of service, character, and spirituality.

“Alexis always puts others first,” said Chase Arndt, assistant dean of Student Affairs. “She has poured herself into the campus community, the local community, and her church, and has been a proven leader on her team. She is always the first to volunteer and the last to leave. She exemplifies what it means to be a Christ follower and a servant leader, and all those around her rely on her integrity and good judgment.”

According to Angie Baker, assistant professor in the School of Education, Alexis exemplifies the ability to bind people together in mutual love and helpfulness.

“Simply put, Alexis demonstrates a servant’s heart,” said Baker. “She consistently demonstrates the characteristics found in I Corinthians 13. Alexis is patient and kind. She does not brag. She is not proud. She is not rude. She is not selfish. She cannot be made angry easily. She chooses not to remember wrongs, and she never gives up on people or loses hope.”

For more information regarding the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, visit here.