From debate to Fortune 500 success, Honors College alumna forges new path

Cassandra Sullivan, Boise State Honors College Alumna

To help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Honors College, we’re profiling select alumni on how an honors education helped shape their personal and professional successes. Submit your own memories of the college by visiting: https://www.boisestate.edu/honors/inspired/graduates/share/

A passion for competitive debate inspired first-generation college student Cassandra Sullivan (’14, BA, economics) to move from her hometown of Idaho Falls to attend Boise State in 2010. Sullivan received a debate scholarship to compete on the Talkin’ Broncos Debate Team, an opportunity that jump started her storied career, both in college and professionally.

Fresh off of winning multiple national debate championships, Sullivan stepped away from Talkin’ Broncos during her sophomore year to solely focus on economics. She was drawn to the Honors College by the many advantages that it offered: smaller class sizes, a variety of colloquiums and scholarships that create opportunities to explore the world.

“Boise State faculty were invested in my success and provided direction while the debate community was supportive of my pursuits whether I was on or off the team,” she said.

With support from Honors College staff, Sullivan also pursued international opportunities and internships. She became one of the first recipients of the Robert and Brenda Atkinson Scholarship, which sent her to Istanbul, Turkey, to work for the U.S. Consulate General.

Sullivan was named a Top Ten Scholar in 2014, fulfilling a “dream of hers,” as she had looked up to previous years’ award winners. She credits Andrew Finstuen, dean of the Honors College, with challenging her to become the best version of herself through his teachings and seminars, while faculty in the Department of Economics provided support and guidance for her post-college career.

“I started Boise State with very little direction or purpose, but my first year of school helped me actualize potential. The Honors College faculty is committed to catering learning experiences to individuals, which is quite the feat at such a large university,” she said.

Sullivan completed her Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Oxford in September. In 2019, graduate business education source Poets and Quants named Sullivan one of “10 Remarkable Women MBAs to Watch.” The list showcases the strong women, role models, future leaders and innovators who “represent the best of both business and education.”

Her work outside of the classroom has extended to a role as a senior consultant for Deloitte, the largest professional services network in the world, where she focuses on large-scale organizational changes for Fortune 500 companies and government agencies. She manages projects that implement leadership, learning or technology strategies, examining the culture and business models of companies in transitions of all kinds.

Sullivan hopes to use all of her experiences and connections to eventually launch something of her own. “I have had the opportunity to build programs from the ground-up with Deloitte’s support and I’d eventually like to have my own company where I can apply the skills I’ve learned.”

In addition to her studies at Boise State, Sullivan attended programs at Georgetown University and George Washington University before landing at the University of Oxford. But according to Sullivan, Boise State offers a unique, rewarding experience that stands on its own.

“Boise State’s Honors College competes as a world-class, liberal arts education, for a fraction of the price,” she said.

What’s her advice to the next generation of Honors College students?

“Seek out every opportunity the college offers and be grateful for the incredible faculty that has made the program what it is today.”

For more information on the Honors College 50th anniversary, visit: https://www.boisestate.edu/honors/inspired/