River Pointe apartments now boasts a Fulbright scholar

05/19/2011 5:12 AM |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Dylan Sullivan, 23, of Riverhead will be heading to Estonia in August to study as a Fulbright scholar.

When the River Pointe Apartments on East Main Street is referenced in the news, its usually due to recurrent crime at the federally subsidized housing community. But 23-year-old graphic artist Dylan Sullivan, who has lived in the apartment complex his entire life, is sure to bring some pride to the neighborhood.

Mr. Sullivan, who graduated from SUNY/Farmingdale in December 2010, will embark on a year-long trip to Estonia this August through the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Program. There he will pursue a master’s degree in fine arts at the Estonian Academy of Art in Tallinn, the country’s capital city.

There is no set dollar amount associated with the award, but Mr. Sullivan’s housing, tuition and travel expenses will be paid for through the federally funded Fulbright program. He will likely re-apply for the award to finance his second year of graduate school.

The program, which has had nearly 300,000 participants both domestic and abroad since its inception, was established by then-Senator J. William Fulbright shortly after World War II as a way to cement relations with European countries. The program awards about 7,500 grants annually, according to its website.

Despite his success in early adulthood, growing up in a subsidized housing community carries with it unique challenges, Mr. Sullivan is quick to admit. After all, a scan of the town police log shows that officers are frequently called to River Pointe for calls ranging from drug arrests to assaults to domestic disturbances. Two homicides occurred in the community in the past three years alone.

“I did see the paths that some of my friends were taking,” said Mr. Sullivan who lives in a three-bedroom apartment with his mother, Mary Rodriguez, and brothers Miguel and Gabriel. “I chose to disconnect myself.”

When Mr. Sullivan was a child, his uncle Stephen Griel, who has since died, paid for him to attend Leonard E. Burkett Christian School in Center Moriches, from which he graduated in 2005. Though he later thrived at the tiny private school after transferring from Riverhead public schools, the transition was not easy, he said.

One day the principal pulled Mr. Sullivan aside to help him understand the chance he was given to improve his circumstances. The talk hit a nerve.

“Because of that, I knew I had to do well,” he said. “I can’t expect to mulligan everything.”

He later found his calling while studying art and visual communications at Eastern Suffolk BOCES during his senior year of high school.

When asked about other hobbies, he said he has virtually no time to invest in anything else.

“You need to indulge yourself in this field,” he said

During his senior year at SUNY/Farmingdale, where he was president of the art club, Mr. Sullivan received an email from Beverly Kahn, the professor who coaches SUNY/Farmingdale students during the Fulbright application process. Dr. Kahn encourages all seniors with a GPA of 3.2 or higher to consider applying for the award.

“I can tell you from experience it changes their lives forever,” she said. “It opens up a whole new world they have never expected to encounter.”

Dr. Kahn, who has received two Fulbright awards herself, noted it is the most prestigious scholarship awarded by the federal government. Mr. Sullivan is only the second student at SUNY/Farmingdale to receive the award.

Mr. Sullivan is also involved in the Riverhead community. He has volunteered his services to East End Arts Council as has worked for the Riverhead Business Improvement District. He and his friend Rob Vanderhoff also operate the graphic design firm, Dedication Graphics. He has been an intern at Embroid Me, a store that does custom embroidery and screen printing, on East Main Street since March.

Mary Rodriguez, said she isn’t too surprised by her son’s success. And she said she doesn’t worry about her son being lonely in a foreign country.

“He’s like the mayor wherever he goes,” she said.

Mr. Sullivan will surely miss his family and friends as he leaves his hometown for so long for the first time, but he knows it is something he has to do.

“I can’t let something be a what if,” he said.

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51 Comment

  • His parents / guardian have had their rent subsidized by the taxpayers for 23 years. In all that time they couldn’t manage to pay their own rent? How hard were they trying? What did my family have to go without so I could pay that family’s rent?

  • I suspect you wake up every morning hating that some (a miniscule amount) of the tax money you might have to pay that day would go to to help a family in your neighborhood.

    It’s sad how you choose to live your life.

    The point of the story that you missed was a kid from Riverhead reached a level of accomplishment that a millionaire’s family would be proud of.

    And he did it with the help of his family… and help from our government… and a mini-mini-miniscule amount of help from you.

    So give yourself a tiny pat on the back and send a note to Dylan congratulating him on winning the Fulbright Scholarship.

  • In response to ‘taxedmore’ and the irrelevant comment they posted..well, this is precisely the reason why the Fulbright Scholar Program and others modeled like it, was established..to help combat a worldwide ‘disease’ that spreads like the plague…IGNORANCE!

    Thank you, Dylan Sullivan, for representing not only the community of Riverhead and NYS, but the US. You will be a fine example of the best that our great nation offers to the world.

    Footnote to ‘taxedmore’…’Winners compare their achievements with their goals..while LOSERS compare their achievements with those of other people.’ -Nido Qubein

  • @ taxedmore
    ahhh, I see it is amateur hour here……or should I have said immature hour here…….
    Apparently your mouth opens “taxedmore” but there is nothing there referencing logic points.

    First lets discuss by saying this is exactly what the subsidized housing, and scholarships are supposed to do. This kid managed to overcome all odds against him, win a scholarship and look to a brighter future that will be him not relying on subsidized housing. And you complain about that? And Dylan deserves a mention as to being an excellent role model for future generations to follow. And to my beloved country the good ‘ol USA! So your argument is a fail. This kid saved your ass if you want to reference it to your so called tax dollars being spent. As it is money well spent. Go pick on your Government raising tax dollars and coming out with ridiculous laws every chance they have to empty your pocket if you want to even attempt to use the “your tax dollars” argument. But something tells me you are not capable.
    Do you see how your points are irrational and extremely illogical? And have to mention you obviously cannot comprehend reality and facts. This kid has beaten the odds, and won whether you like it or not!

    psst, by the way, your family did not have to go without anything by a kid named Dylan winning the Fulbright Scholarship if you have time to sit on a computer and pick on innocent, harmless achievements that you yourself, I am very sure, could never accomplish. Leads me to wonder what your family is going without now, from you, if you have time to be so hateful on a website.
    So another one of your arguments = fail.

    And just a shout out to a special person who overcame all obstacles and low odds with achieving winning this award, Dylan. Heck of a feat kid, many congratulations! This kid has beaten the odds, and won! sweeeeeeeeeeeet, :).

  • I don’t get to choose how to live my life. I expend a large part of it working and people like you choose how the fruits of my labor are spent. I’m sure you have a warm feeling about it.

  • Barb – I carry my own weight in society and work hard to support my family. I would probably be a real loser to compare my achievements to yours. But thank you for enlightening the world with your wisdom.

  • 23 YEARS! Call it what you like it is not “help”, the taxpayers are getting ripped off when somebody gets their money for 23 YEARS!

  • “Ripped off,” like everyone but the super-wealthy, who had their top income tax rate reduced by President Reagan from 70% in 1980 when he got into office to 28% in 1988?

    “Ripped off,” like the American people who saw their country’s debt TRIPLE (1.75T) during Reagan’s term in office because Reagan believed the super-wealthy would use the money they saved due to the reduction of their their taxes to hire more people and give raises to their workers, which was the (failed) trickle down theory?

    And then Bush1 gets into office and increases the debt almost as much as Reagan did (1.5T).

    And Bush2 gets in and increases the debt by 46% MORE than Reagan and Bush1 combined (4.76T).

    Which, if you add it all up, means the republicans, the “small government” party, increased the national debt by more than 8 of the 9.7 TRILLION DOLLARS from the year Reagan took office until Bush2 left office.

    See http://tinyurl.com/66g5ez

    “Ripped off,” like everyone but the super-wealthy who have been taxed at 35% since 2003, when the fact is the last time a republican president had a balanced budget was 60 years ago and the top tax rate was 91%?

    “Ripped off,” like the American people who were sold out by the republicans who recently voted to continue to pay billions of dollars every year to the oil industry, the most profitable industry on the face of the earth, because the oil industry donates big money to their election campaigns?

    You’re complaining about a spec of dust when the country’s real pain is coming from the bloated elephant the republicans have everyone but the super-wealthy carrying on their back every day when they go to work.

  • Ripped Off like this – Since the mid 60’s we have spent $16 Trillion (by 2008) on means tested government giveaway programs. We are now $14 Trillion in debt and have 43 million people on food stamps, over 40 million kids getting free school lunches, 9 million more on WIC, about 8 million in subsidized housing, 5 million on TANF, 8 million on SSI (including 1.2 million kids), 71 million households not paying taxes because of EITC and the Child Tax Credit and about 49 million on Medicaid. Does anybody really think more debt or taxes to pay for more giveaway programs is really going to help anything? How can a tax system be called “fair” when 47% of households are getting a free ride on the backs of the 53% who are paying income tax and carrying their own weight in society? What part of that is fair? If you pay people to be poor, they will be poor. If you pay them to have more kids than they can afford, they will have more kids. They know that as soon as they can say “in need” and “at risk” they will qualify for the money that somebody else expended a part of their life earning. Why should they be responsible when they can qualify for somebody else’s earnings? This is just plain wrong and there is nothing fair about it. And no – I am not wealthy, just sick and tired of paying other people’s bills.

  • you have a lot of choices,do not blame everyone else for the bad choices you made,the great thing about our country is you can control your own destiny and the same opportunity that this young fellow got was avaliable to you and your own children.he is a very hard working young man who is doing something to improve his life not sitting back saying woe is me.

  • I’m Dylans mother. Taxedmore, you are an ignorant ass. I’m ashamed that you soiled my sons accomplishments without knowing anything about us. I’m NOT going to indulge in your arguements. This article was about MY SON getting a Scholarship that ANYONE is eligible to win. Its about hard work, high marks and being a great man. Unlike you, I was at work all day. I had to sit there knowing I had to wait to come home to address this. I couldn’t understand why a grown man, with the internet at his fingertips chose to comment about ‘part’ of an article that has NOTHING to do with MY SON! There was no other news today that might have been a bit more important?? Maybe something you might actually have knowledge about?? NO, you chose to pick an article without having ANY facts about my family. Should I assume things about you based on the information you provided?? I wouldn’t bother.

  • Who are you to call me an ignorant ass? Did you bother to actually read my original comment? There is NOTHING in it or any of my other comments that say anything about your son’s accomplishments. He did good, no doubt about it. My comment is about long term subsidized rent. Too bad you were not smart enough to pick up on that. Maybe your son can explain it to you.

  • Read my comments, they are about long term subsidized rent. Not whatever you are dreaming about.

  • Taxedmore,

    We can’t have you picking fights with subjects of our stories, particularly when your comments are not really relevant to what the story is about.
    Please refrain from continuing to post comments on this story. Consider this your first and final warning.

    Grant Parpan, web editor

  • As I stated earlier, nothing there.


  • So you must REALLY be upset about being “ripped off” by the oil industry knowing that some of their tax breaks go back almost 100 years… to 1913.