WCU student to receive community impact award from state organization

A Western Carolina University student who is making service to the deaf community her life’s work will be honored Saturday, Nov. 6, at the state level for her efforts and achievements.

Shaneé Sullivan will receive a Community Impact Student Award from North Carolina Campus Compact, a statewide coalition of college and university leaders dedicated to promoting community service, service learning and civic engagement in higher education.

A senior biology major from Raleigh, Sullivan served from 2008 to 2010 as a volunteer tutor at the North Carolina School for the Deaf in Morganton, where she assisted students with learning sign language and English vocabulary, and with American College Test preparation. Her fundraising efforts last year resulted in scholarships totaling nearly $1,000 for two NCSD seniors to attend college.

The daughter of Deirdre Thompson Sullivan and Charles Sullivan, she graduated from Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School in 2006.

Ruth Jones, volunteer services director at NCSD, praised Sullivan’s enthusiasm, energy, creativity and dedication as a volunteer. “She is truly a treasure,” Jones said.

Sullivan is currently a volunteer teacher assistant at Cullowhee Valley School, where she develops enrichment units for academically or intellectually gifted students in the fourth and seventh grades to connect their current literature to the world around them. She also teaches sign language to students in a special needs class. In addition, she is a volunteer tutor at Blue Ridge School, assisting students with English/American Sign Language vocabulary and reading comprehension.

“The students with Down syndrome and those students who are nonvocal benefit the most because sign helps them better communicate what they want, or what they need, better than the methods currently used,” Sullivan said. “I also help with inclusion in the general education physical education class and with basic living skills such as eating, washing hands and putting on shoes.”

Sullivan recently changed her career goal from veterinary oncology to special education focusing on the needs of deaf students. On the WCU campus, she founded WheeSign, the American Sign Language Club, to raise awareness about deaf culture, sign language and related issues.

Already honored this year with a WCU community service award, Sullivan is one of 20 students who will receive Community Impact Awards from N.C. Campus Compact at its annual student conference, hosted by Johnson C. Smith University. The Community Impact Awards are presented annually in recognition of outstanding student leadership and innovative approaches to volunteer and curriculum-based community service.