Auburn Chamber, Newscaster Kelly Sullivan celebrate scholars
Scholars gather with Auburn Chamber officers and directors after the presentation of awards at the Elks Lodge on Southbridge St.
By Rod Lee
After far too long and far too frustrating a hiatus, the Auburn Chamber of Commerce resumed in-person meetings on the morning of May 21, at the Elks Lodge on Southbridge St.
But, as if by way of reminding Steve Londregan, Virginia Murphy, Matteo Gentile and others involved in hosting the event that things are even now not quite back to normal, Guest Speaker Kelly Sullivan of Boston25 News had to participate via Zoom.
The word “hybrid” still applied, therefore, even as attendees went to the buffet line for scrambled eggs, sausage and potatoes—something they hadn’t been able to do for months on end. Indeed a brief conversation at a table occupied by Kerri Cunningham of Fuller Automotive, Roger Robinson of Webster Five Cent Savings Bank, Mr. Londregan of Chuck’s Steak House and Mr. Gentile of Exit Realty Partners was mostly about hybrid learning, which served as a preface to Mr. Londregan’s own opening remarks in which he said “here in Auburn we’re lucky. All our students had iPads. Hats off to the Auburn school administration for being ahead of the curve.”
The Auburn Chamber may not have been able to hold its School/Business Partnership Golf Tournament in 2020, “but today we are giving out over $15,000 in scholarships, and we have given out $330,500 since 1995,” Mr. Londregan said.
Fortunately, this summer’s tournament is a go. It is scheduled for September 13 at Blackstone Nation al Golf Club in Sutton with a shotgun start at 9:00 a.m. All profits from the tournament support the Chamber’s mini-grant and scholarship programs.
One of the first orders of business at the breakfast was announcement of special awards for Police Officer Stephen A. Lukas, who was killed on duty in 1986 when, in responding to an early-morning call, his patrol vehicle skidded off an icy road and struck a utility pole; and Maj. David Brodeur, who died in 2011 while deployed in Afghanistan.
There was understandable enthusiasm for the appearance of Ms. Sullivan, an Auburn girl, Auburn High grad (Class of 2002) and anchor of Boston25 News. Like all of the recipients of this year’s scholarships, which were announced by Carrie Cross of Life Care Centers of Auburn, Ms. Sullivan was awarded an Auburn Chamber scholarship, which she used towards earning her degree in Broadcast Journalism at Syracuse University.
“This is only my second time on Zoom through the entire pandemic!” Ms. Sullivan said, as her image appeared on the screen.
She apologized for not being able to make the trip out, saying, “it’s Nielsen ratings time, we go through it four times a year. I’m in a live truck in Roxbury.”
In asserting that her years at Auburn High were “a huge advantage” in pursuing the career she had charted for herself, she said “I danced, played soccer and basketball and ran track. School was always number one with me. In middle school, I knew I wanted to be in news. Katie Couric inspired me.
“I was on a committee to build the new high school” you are enjoying today, she told scholars.
“I went above and beyond to get into the school I wanted—Syracuse.”
She offered some advice students may not have been expecting to hear.
“Take other classes in college that you like,” not just the ones linked to your major, she said. “Business, if you want to be an entrepreneur.” Also, she said, “I went through all my money studying abroad but I would do it again in a heartbeat—for the experience.”
Two years ago, she said, “my husband and I got our real estate licenses.”
From her “first job, in Harrisonburg, Virginia (at WHSV), I moved there four days after I graduated,” she was always pointing toward Boston. In Harrisonburg, she covered the graduation of Virginia Tech just months after the tragic shootings on that campus. Other big moments came quickly: President Trump on the campaign trail, Tom Brady returning from the suspension imposed on him, the Patriots’ Super Bowl win in Houston, Washington where she reported along the parade route during the first inauguration of President Barack Obama.
She came to Boston 25 News in June of 2017, from WPRI in Providence.
“Boston was my end goal,” she said. “At each place I learned so much. I have interviewed Mark Wahlberg and Robert Kraft. You never know who you are going to run into in this business.
“It all started with a good foundation at Auburn High School.”
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.