Release Date: 
Friday, April 29, 2022

Get to Know HFC: Sarah Sullivan was born to sparkle

Campus Safety Division Secretary Sarah Sullivan.

HFC Campus Safety Department Secretary Sarah Sullivan said she was born to sparkle. A sign in her workstation in Campus Safety (Bldg. N) even confirms this. And many of her coworkers at the College, as well as students, would tell you the same thing.

“I like to start my day with a smile for everyone coming in,” said Sullivan, of Dearborn. “I try to get people who come in to get their photos taken for their ID badges to smile. A smile is a window to the heart.”

“This is my jam”

A recent recipient of the Women’s Recognition Award, Sullivan has been in higher education for more than 10 years, six at HFC. She has been in her current position for 3½ years, reporting to HFC Campus Safety Manager Karen Schoen.

“I began at HFC in Records and Registration. When this position opened up after Annette Klauke retired, I applied for it,” she recalled. “I loved Records and Registration, but this is my jam. I have the opportunity to meet and help a lot of people in this position.”

Her duties include issuing new employee ID badges and keys, filing, fielding calls, reviewing budgets, entering requisitions, keeping things in order, and anywhere else she can help out.

“We try to make sure we know what’s going on all over campus. We’ve got our finger on that pulse. When people have an issue or a question, hopefully we have the answer or we know how to get the answer for them quickly,” she said. “It’s ever-evolving. What I do today could be completely different tomorrow. It’s Campus Safety, there are always different things that happen here.”

Sullivan is known all over campus for her infectious enthusiasm and positive outlook. "Sarah is one of the most genuinely and enthusiastically positive people I have met," said Rhonda DeLong, Vice President of Marketing and Communications. "She just loves people, and it shows. I have never seen her have a bad day. If you contact Sarah for any reason, she will do her best to help, and she will lift your spirits. She understands how to make people feel appreciated and valued. You will leave your interactions with Sarah feeling like you were the best part of her day -- and she is like that with everyone! She is a joy to work with."

Unofficial counselor

The youngest of three, Sullivan is a graduate of Melvindale High School. Rather than go into the military as her older siblings did, Sullivan attended HFC (then Henry Ford Community College), taking general studies courses.

“Those weren’t my most studious years,” she confessed with a laugh.

Sullivan worked in the hospitality and food service industries for more than a decade. She was the manager of the very first Starbucks to open up in Michigan, at the Detroit Metro Airport. She also worked in customer service at what is now PTI Containment Solutions in Detroit, which is a company that painted and shipped the axles for American Axle in Detroit.

She then became the receptionist at the Art Institute of Michigan in Novi. In this role, Sullivan assisted with commencement in all its various aspects. She ordered caps and gowns, made scrolls, served as an usher at the commencement ceremony, and fielded last-minute phone calls. She also served as an unofficial counselor for students.

“They would show me their artwork, and I’d give them feedback. I’d encourage them to keep pushing themselves and persevering. I remember one student who dropped out. I was so happy when he came back the next semester. I was like, ‘Hey! You came back! So glad you’re back!’ Then I got to see him walk across the stage – that was awesome.”

Finishing her education

While working at AIM, Sullivan decided to continue her education, so she enrolled there. She earned her associate degree in graphic design.

“I really enjoyed the graphic design program. I met so many wonderful people. If you took the time and were willing to learn, you would do well. The faculty wanted you to succeed. I know. I’m one of them. I see that here at HFC as well.”

A great love for HFC

It was at AIM where Sullivan became passionate about higher education. She has brought that same passion for higher education to HFC.

“I love my job,” she said. “I love every aspect of my job. I love the people. I love the College. Every part of it is great. I’m very blessed to be able to come a place I love and work with people I love.”