Campus leader. Curious student. Activist. Celebrator extraordinaire. Generous friend. These are just a few of the phrases friends use to describe the late Kevin Sanborn ’87.

Sanborn, an active member of the Wesleyan campus, served as a resident adviser, head resident of West College, and as a member of several gay rights organizations and the Mystical Seven. In 1987, Wesleyan recognized Sanborn with the Heideman Award, an honor given annually to an undergraduate who has helped others in the Wesleyan community.

Sarah Williams ’88 recalls, “Kevin was just an amazing person. He grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, and when he got to Wesleyan he could finally be himself: the most magnetic, dynamic, engaging person you ever met.”

After graduation, Sanborn taught English in Spain before moving to New York City, where he worked with assault victims through the Victim Services Agency (now Safe Horizon) and helped children with HIV and AIDS as a hospital volunteer.  In 1991, Sanborn was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a complication resulting from the HIV virus. He died less than two months later, just one week short of his 25th birthday.

In 2002, Jeremy Mindich ’87 and Sarah Williams, joined by Kevin’s friends and classmates, helped establish the Kevin Sanborn ’87 Internship, an endowed fund that is part of the Wesleyan Summer Experience Grant Program. Grants are awarded each year to several Wesleyan students interested in pursuing summer learning opportunities focused on social change.

Over the years, Sanborn grant recipients have worked worldwide on a wide range of social issues in a wide variety of settings, from a school in Thailand to a women’s health center in Massachusetts to a shelter for abused and trafficked women in Italy to a grassroots welfare-reform organization in New York City. “It is wonderful to consider all the positive things Wesleyan students are doing in Kevin’s name,” says Mindich. (To see additional recipients of the Kevin Sanborn ’87 Internship, visit Please also see for additional stories.