Anne Sullivan was nothing if not dedicated. Living from April 14, 1866 to October 20, 1936, Sullivan was a blind woman who mentored Helen Keller into the person we all know through hard work and perseverance. Sullivan is a role model change maker because, despite having many disadvantages, she was able to succeed in life and dedicate herself to helping others through the role of an educator and through companionship .
Born in 1866 to a illiterate family suffering through poverty after moving to Massachusetts from Ireland to escape the Great Potato Famine, Anne was named Johanna Mansfield Sullivan at birth, however she almost immediately adopted the name Anne or Annie.
Anne Sullivan was an expert at persevering - she had no choice but to be. It almost sounds like the premise of a Roald Dahl book; she developed an eye infection at age five that left her blind, her mother died at age eight, she was abandoned by her father at age ten, was subsequently sent to an almhouse with one of her brothers, and then her brother died almost immediately after arriving, leaving her alone in a house full of strangers. Despite all that, Annie didn’t give up. In just 4 years, she had gotten people around her to read to her, taught herself through their reading, and convinced a visiting inspector to send her to a school for the blind named Perkins. Pretty impressive for a fourteen year-old.
Despite her harsh early life, Anne was a kind and loving person. She changed from a desperate child who wanted nothing more to escape poverty and get an education into a respected woman who acted as a stalwart role model for Helen. This change took place at Perkins. However, most of the changes most likely came from a knowledge of what she wanted rather than through observation; at Perkins, she was separate from her peers, having started her education at age 14 and lacking in the social skills considered necessary for a young woman at the time, and she never felt like she fit in. Despite this, she saw what she wanted to embody, and simply did what was necessary to be a good role model for Helen.
Anne Sullivan was a dedicated woman. After graduating from Perkins, Anne got a job working as a governess for Helen Keller, accepted, and moved to live with her immediately, where she stayed by Helen’s side for her entire life; she died holding Helen’s hand. She spent her life from age 20 to age 70 by Helen’s side, assisting her with everything. Anne was the person to make the first breakthrough with Helen; for four months, she worked with Helen, trying to make the link between her remaining senses and tracing their names. After finally making bridging the gap, she worked with Helen to learn the name of everyday objects. She taught her how to write, read Braille, and even speak, although she never mastered talking. She even co-wrote Helen’s autobiography, and traveled with her to speak with audiences. When she married, she and her husband moved in with Helen to help with her day to day life. She continued to be a role model for her whole life, showing amazing determination no matter the challenges presented, even through her divorce, deteriorating vision, and lack of proper care in later life.
Anne was a dedicated woman, one who started with practically nothing but problems in her life and who continued to push through the challenges presented to her, no matter what. She helped herself and later others to live life to the fullest even through physical, mental and emotional challenges. For this and more, she is a role model and a change maker.
Bio Staff “Anne Sullivan - Educator” September 23, 2016 www.biography.com March 5, 2018 <https://www.biography.com/people/anne-sullivan-9498826>
Bio Staff “The Miracle Worker - Who was Anne Sullivan?” March 2, 2017 www.biography.com March 5, 2018 <https://www.biography.com/news/anne-sullivan-early-life-biography>
AFB Staff “Biography - Helen Keller” www.afb.org March 5, 2018 <http://www.afb.org/info/about-us/helen-keller/biography-and-chronology/biography/1235>
Perkins Staff “Anne Sullivan” Perkins School For the Blind www.perkins.org March 5, 2018 <http://www.perkins.org/history/people/anne-sullivan>