Carlie L. Sulpizio ’13, Distinguished Young Alumna
- Carlos Barron
With a newly-minted Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology and theatre, Sulpizio joined the Peace Corps in 2013. She was sent to rural areas of the West African nation of Burkina Faso to help local clinics improve community health and education. This wasn’t an easy assignment. Beyond the usual challenges of a Peace Corps assignment, Sulpizio was placed in very remote areas and separated from other volunteers.
The post called for a self-driven, individual effort, and Sulpizio excelled, finding ways to work with her communities without much direction or assistance. The country, one of the poorest in the world, also went through a political upheaval during her time there.
Sulpizio persevered, and her positive attitude allowed her to frame obstacles as challenges for her to overcome in the communities she was assigned to and passionately served.
Her Peace Corps assignment was also an opportunity for Sulpizio to form relationships and build cross-cultural bridges. Many of Sulpizio’s new friends had never even seen an American on television or in a movie, much less met one and gotten to know them in person. Sulpizio also became an ambassador of sorts for the little-known country, sharing her experiences and increasing awareness and understanding on both sides.
After returning from Burkina Faso, Sulpizio enrolled at the University of Washington, where she is working on her Master of Public Health in global health.
Sulpizio’s Southwestern professors and friends say Sulpizio has an infectious love of learning. Melissa Johnson, professor of anthropology, remembers, “I taught Carlie in Theory in Anthropology, a small and intensive seminar, and then again in the Capstone Senior Seminar in Anthropology, a very small and intensive course. She was so much fun in those classes, really loved learning, grappling with the ideas. (She is) effervescent, energetic, engaged, determined, but always quick to laugh. A leader.”
Johnson shares how Sulpizio contributes to the well-being of humanity - a tenet of the liberal arts philosophy and part of Southwestern University’s core purpose.
“Carlie’s Capstone project was an awesome example of this. She studied artistic production – a wide array of music, graffiti, and plays—in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the relationship between art and ‘The Troubles,’ the violent political strife that has divided Northern Ireland for many decades. Her nuanced study paid close attention to the political and economic disenfranchisement that republicans feel but that also fully humanized the unionists who typically are far better off and in positions of power.”
Fellow Peace Corps volunteer Francisco E. Rosado says, “Carlie is the person you place your money on. She is brave and steadfast, enduring almost every obstacle thrown at her. She can adapt to any environment and persevered through any storm, all while leading us to follow her through. As a friend you can’t ask for better. She is loyal, kind and one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. Carlie is someone we all strive to be around. She’s someone with ‘good character.’”
Sulpizio’s work in Burkina Faso went far beyond typical. She initiated the creation of a health education center in her village, obtained solar panels for the clinic to provide electricity, become regional malaria coordinator, painted myriad murals, started a summer camp program for empowering youths and joined the Peer Support Diversity Network to support and encourage other Peace Corps volunteers.
Rosado sums up Sulpizio’s way of being by saying, simply, “She looks at the world with lenses only given to a few. Carlie is about bridging divides and finding a connection. She is a peacemaker.”
For her work to make the world a better place, the Southwestern University Alumni Association is proud to present Carlie Sulpizio with a Distinguished Young Alumna Award for 2016.