Alumni Plaza the center of the Dowagiac campus


Sullivans pack Weekend Survival Kits

DeYonte and McKinzie packing Weekend Survival Kits

DeYonte Sullivan at Steve's Run in 2022

DeYonte competing in the 2022 Steve's Run

DeYonte was a panelist at the fifth anniversary program

DeYonte was a panelist for the Honors Program's fifth anniversary in April 2022

DeYonte Sullivan

DeYonte Sullivan, SMC 2017

DeYonte Sullivan's Health Care Path Leading Toward Doctor

Published on April 11, 2024 - 10 a.m.

One of Southwestern Michigan College’s first Honors Program students, DeYonte Sullivan, is still pursuing medicine.

“I hope to be a dermatologist, family practice or Emergency Room doctor. I know that’s a range but they all interest me,” Sullivan said.

He worked as a patient care technician at Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital, got married in March 2023 and in May he and McKinzie were dubbed a “power couple destined for success” for their voluntarism by a non-profit food bank.

Patient care technicians work under the supervision of a nurse, doctor or other health professional to administer basic care to patients. This position involves interacting with patients face-to-face and aiding with daily tasks.

The 2017 graduate credits SMC for learning study discipline that helped him succeed at the University of Michigan (Class of 2021).

“I’m happy with what I went through here because it’s paid off,” he said as a panelist when the Honors Program celebrated its fifth anniversary in April 2022 in the Student Activity Center theatre.

“At a university you’re expected to use tutoring services and study groups. I held a campus job as a math and science tutor and was a crew member at McDonald’s. While at SMC, I presented my original research, Lead Detection Through Hair Analysis, to the American Chemical Society in San Francisco,” Sullivan said.

At U-M Sullivan received his bachelor’s degree in biology, health and society, with a minor in community action and social change.

“Through SMC,” Sullivan said, “I was prepared for university-level research. I acted as a research assistant for water analysis in Trinidad and Tobago, partnered with the University of West Indies. I was able to do paid research in Trinidad for six weeks.”

Sullivan’s next opportunity came with U of M’s Injury Prevention Center, one of nine funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“I analyzed data for the System for Opioid Surveillance, a near real-time dashboard used to help locate opioid overdoses,” Sullivan said. “During undergrad summers, I worked in a nursing home to gain medical experience and clinical hours.”

Sullivan worked as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) for West Woods of Niles from July 2017 to June 2020, mostly during the summer and over longer school breaks, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Since returning to SMC, Sullivan completed his medical neuroscience certificate through Michigan State University.

“However, I did not apply to medical school this cycle. With losing my mom, I gave myself some grace and pushed that plan back,” he said. “I am planning to apply next May when the new enrollment cycle opens up.”

Sadly, he lost his mother, Ronda, 46, in January 2023 to an eight-year cancer battle. She was president of the Dowagiac Board of Education at the time of her death. Her twin sister, Danielle Lucas, is SMC’s financial aid systems analyst and serves on Dowagiac City Council.

“I am not against being on city council or on the school board,” he said. “I will not say I’m going to run for any offices, but I plan on always having some type of deep community involvement wherever I end up settling. I want to make a difference in the communities of which I am part.”

Most recently, he’s made a difference with Williamston-based Weekend Survival Kits, a non-profit organization with bi-weekly packing sessions during the school year of mostly non-perishable food items into grocery-sized bags.

Weekend Survival Kits’ mission is providing at-risk children meals during non-school hours, specifically weekends, holidays and breaks when school meals are not available.

“It is basically a food bank geared towards children,” Sullivan said. “My role is helping prepare these food kits so they can be dropped off at the schools the next day. There are two packing locations, one in Okemos and one in Lansing. I volunteer at both locations, usually whichever has less volunteers that week being the sessions go on at the same time.” He started in March 2021.

McKinzie is responsible for DeYonte getting involved with Weekend Survival Kits.

“I got into WSK because McKinzie’s job does a volunteer day,” he said, “so she told me about them when I needed some volunteer hours for my minor in college. I just ended up liking the mission and people of the organization so I have stuck with it. They are genuine and are always happy. I also love that it focuses on food insecurity for children. Kids can’t be expected to do well in school without basic needs being met.”

Mrs. Sullivan, the former McKinzie Kiggins, was a 2016 Dowagiac Union High School classmate. They met at Dowagiac Middle School, but did not start dating until junior year of high school. 

She graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2019 with her bachelor’s degree in accounting and works as an auditor for the Office of Auditor General. She audits state-funded programs for Michigan.

McKinzie is the junior varsity volleyball head coach and assistant JV coach for the softball team at Waverly High School in Lansing.