By Sydney Juliano

As Baldwin Hall undergoes renovation, many of us can reflect on our time spent in the building. For Michael “Sully” Sullivan, one day in Baldwin holds a special significance: He saw a girl walking out of class, and asked a friend if she knew who she was. She told him that the girl’s name was Rebecca Nash, she was a fellow political science major, and she was out of his league.

“She was right,” he says today about Rebecca, his wife of nearly 20 years.

The Sullivans did not actually meet until their last semester at UGA, which they spent in the Georgia Legislative Internship Program. He worked for the State Planning and Community Affairs Committee, while she worked for Sonny Perdue, the President pro tempore of the state Senate.  The pair met on the first day of the program orientation in January, had their first date on February 1st, were engaged on April 5th, married August 2nd and started law school together at UGA that same month.

“It was a big year,” Sully says, laughing. “SPIA changed our lives.”

Even their first date can be attributed to their internship connections. Rebecca mentioned off-handedly that she wanted to watch the sunrise from Stone Mountain, an experience typically only available on Easter Sunday. Sully decided to take matters into his own hands in an effort to impress her, and contacted the local authorities with a casual mention that he was calling from the capitol.

“The police chief, I guess, was a romantic,” he says, as he reflects on the successful, yet freezing-cold sunrise followed by a Waffle House breakfast. “I knew she was the one because she ordered without looking at the menu.”

Nearly two decades later, the Sullivans live in Snellville with their two children, Grace, 13, and Nash, 9. Rebecca later became part of Perdue’s gubernatorial administration, and she works today as the Assistant Commissioner and General Counsel for the Georgia Department of Administrative Services, while Sully is the current President and CEO of the American Council of Engineering Companies, Georgia. Both credit SPIA  – particularly Dr. Chuck Bullock, who encouraged both to apply for the internship program, was at their wedding, and still gets an annual Christmas card – with giving them experiences that contributed to both their successful careers and marriage.

“I took every class that [Dr. Bullock] offered…those classes absolutely gave me the foundation that I built my career on,” Sully says.

“Him encouraging me to do the program changed my life,” Rebecca adds. “In more ways than one.”


Original story in We The People: