BRISTOL, Tenn., May 1, 2021 — King University is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 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 students Kiayana Roberts and Megan Hagy, and to community member the Rev. Dr. W. A. Johnson during today’s commencement ceremony.
Crestview, Florida native Kiayana Roberts graduated from King in December 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. While at King, she served as the president of the Student Government Association, chair of the Student Life Activities Committee at King (SLACK), and resident assistant, and volunteered in numerous clubs, ministries, and campus organizations. She is currently pursuing a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy while working as an area coordinator as part of King’s residence life staff, and plans a career in the juvenile rehabilitation sector of criminal justice.
“Kiayana is an amazing student with strong faith and character, representative of the values and standards held by King University,” said Chase Arndt, director of Student Life. “She lives out her faith in Christ by her devotion and care to those around her, and she is always looking for new ways she can serve or reach out to those in need.”
“Among the various ways that Kiayana was engaged in campus life during her time at King, the thing that consistently stood out was her strong sense of ethics, and her care and concern about those with whom she was working,” said Matt Peltier, Ph.D., dean of Academic Services and university librarian. “It was apparent that she approached things through a lens of grace, love, and compassion, respecting the integrity and inherent worth of others, while also being committed to maintaining her own integrity.”
Megan Hagy is a 2021 graduate of King with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Throughout her four years as a full-time student, she worked as a kennel technician, initiated numerous informal study groups to help classmates with difficult courses, and organized Bible studies involving both students and professors. A native of Bristol, Virginia, she plans to pursue veterinary school and eventually own her own veterinary practice.
“Megan is humble, giving, and encouraging in a way that puts others first and never seeks the spotlight for herself,” said Laura Ong, Ph.D., associate professor of Biology. “She is one of the most selfless students I have ever taught or spent time with, and is beloved by students and faculty for her cheerful manner, her unflagging efforts in her studies, and her habit of lifting others’ spirits with her quiet encouragement. She has spent many hours working to support herself, her family, and her career goals. Her dedication to those who depend on her has left precious little time for herself, which makes her daily outreach to others all the more remarkable.”
“In her time at King, Megan has built lasting relationships with both her peers and faculty,” said Josh Rudd, M.S., assistant professor of Biology. “Her kindness, cheer, and compassion speak louder than words, filling the lives of those around her with love. It is King’s honor to bestow this award on her as a standard-bearer of its ideals.”
The Rev. Dr. W.A. Johnson grew up in the Hampton, Virginia area, and is a graduate of Virginia Union University in Richmond, the Virginia Seminary in Lynchburg, and the Chicago Theological Seminary at the University of Chicago. For six decades, he has served as a spiritual leader to Bristol, the surrounding region, and the Commonwealth. He is a former trustee of Virginia Union University and has served on a number of boards of directors and advisory boards.
Johnson organized the Bristol Head Start Center in 1966, led several capital projects at Lee Street Baptist Church, served as the moderator of the Schaeffer Memorial Baptist Association of Southwest Virginia, led the Baptists of Virginia to build a new state office in Richmond, and has helped plant churches in Central Asia, Africa, Haiti, Cuba, and South Africa. He served as an open door devotional speaker for WCYB for 30 years. He currently serves on the boards of WHCB, WLFG, Bristol Faith in Action, Mike Jenkins Ministries Inc., and Living Faith Ministries Inc., and presents the “Living Word” television program on WLFG every Sunday morning.
“Dr. Johnson has borne witness to the transforming love and grace of Jesus Christ, both in his pastoral ministry at Lee Street Baptist Church and in his significant community leadership through times of crisis and growth,” said Martin Dotterweich, Ph.D., professor of History and director of King University’s Institute for Faith and Culture. “When he arrived in Bristol in 1961, he assumed it would be a short stop on his way to a larger ministry in a larger city, but he felt God’s call to stay here to be a beacon for the African-American community and to work for the building of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the ‘beloved community.’ He has lived a life of selflessness and care for others, and it is our honor to recognize his lifetime of service.”