Working the third shift takes discipline. Working the third shift while raising three teenagers, earning a master’s degree and training for a marathon takes something closer to superpowers.
“It presents some challenges, but the key is to maintain consistency,” says Frank Sullivan, a sergeant with the UMass Lowell Police Department who expects to earn his master of arts degree in criminal justice from the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in May 2018.
After patrolling campus from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., Sullivan heads home to Milford, N.H., to help his wife get the kids off to school. He then grabs a few hours of sleep before getting up in the afternoon to catch the kids’ sporting events and take care of homework (both theirs and his own). After dinner with the family, Sullivan takes a nap before heading back to police headquarters at University Crossing.
It’s the kind of disciplined routine that Sullivan learned during his four-year stint in the U.S. Marine Corps. Originally from Chelmsford, Sullivan enlisted in the Marines after graduating from Lexington High School in 1985.
“I wasn’t ready for college yet, and I wanted to get out and see the world,” says Sullivan, who served mostly in Okinawa, Japan, and the Mediterranean, where he trained with soldiers from Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Israel and Turkey.
Sullivan returned home after his service and earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Middlesex Community College. He then joined the police department in Nashua, N.H., where he spent 21 years, rising to the rank of lieutenant. In 2011, he enrolled online at Granite State College and earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. In 2014, Sullivan joined the UMLPD.
“It’s a really good mix of experienced and younger officers,” says Sullivan, who enjoys the department’s close working relationship with university administrators and the Lowell Police Department. “I love working with the students and faculty and ensuring a safe learning environment for them. That’s the most important thing.”
Sullivan also enjoys being one of nearly 1,200 veterans enrolled at the university.
“It’s great to see how Chancellor Moloney, Veterans Services and the entire UMass Lowell community embraces and supports veterans,” says Sullivan, who has done his own part by raising more than $2,000 for the charitable organization Veterans Count at this year’s Manchester (N.H.) City Marathon. Sullivan was the top individual fundraiser and also ran the half-marathon in 1 hour, 50 minutes and 50 seconds.
“Being a veteran, the race took on more meaning for me,” says Sullivan, who took up distance running several years ago as a way to stay in shape. He’s since competed in close to 100 road races, including two marathons (Lowell and Burlington, Vermont) and several half-marathons. His goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
As for his goal of earning a master’s degree, Sullivan says he’s doing it for two reasons: to be a better supervisor and mentor for the younger officers in the department and to be a role model for his kids.
“I don’t care who you are or how old you are, you can always learn something new. And it’s important to stay up to date with the times,” says Sullivan, who has taken most of his classes online but did take a statistics class on campus this fall. “The flexibility of the online courses has been critical, and the professors are really helpful. They want you to succeed.
“I’ll be the first one in my family to reach this level of education, and I hope I’m not the last,” Sullivan adds. “I want to show my kids that anything is possible if they put their minds to it.”
And maybe inherit a few of dad’s superpowers.