Watson Chronicle


Watson College News

WCE Senior Launches Nonprofit, is Featured in Local News

Monday, January 04, 2016

Leah Ann Sherrill, a senior enrolled in the Adapted Curriculum Special Education program at the Watson College, is passionate about assisting individuals with disabilities. Last fall, when Sherrill learned of the difficulties some individuals face when seeking gainful employment, she decided to start a nonprofit organization to help. Her start-up, called Special Pedals, seeks to create jobs selling, renting and repairing bicycles on and around the UNCW campus where they are widely used. 

Sherrill hopes Special Pedals will become a model for other employers and lead to increased employment opportunities for the disabled.

She has received advice from UNCW graduate student David Morrison, who is working on a master’s in public administration with a focus on nonprofit management, and from UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

She recently received a $500 grant from the North Carolina Council for Exceptional Children (NC-CEC). The grant award, designed to reward individuals who have innovative ideas for better meeting the needs of students with disabilities, was presented at the 29th Annual CEC State Conference at the Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, NC in January.

Sherrill was also selected to receive the 2015 Teresa S. Lee Scholarship in Education in November. The scholarship fund was created in 2014 by the Night Department of North Carolina Sorosis Women’s Club to honor their founder and first president. Scholarship recipients are selected annually based on demonstrated academic ability and special achievement, with preference given to students involved in service to the community or the profession.

Teresa Lee presented the award at the Sorosis Night Club’s annual awards celebration on Nov. 16. More than 100 Sorosis Night Club members and guests, including Watson College Dean Van Dempsey and associate dean Carol McNult,y attended the event.

“I am incredibly proud of Leah,” said WCE assistant professor Alicia Brophy. “She has taken so much initiative to help students and other individuals with disabilities. And writing her first grant and getting it funded; what an accomplishment! There is no doubt that she will have a bright and successful future.” 

Feature Stories in the Media

StarNews – Nov. 19 www.starnewsonline.com/article/20151119/articles/151119626?p=1&tc=pg

WWAY – Dec. 4 www.wwaytv3.com/2015/12/04/uncw-student-hopes-to-create-bike-shop-for-adults-with-disabilities/