Student entrepreneur Sierra Champion is touching the lives of children across the state through the nonprofit organization SHORT the Squirrel.
SHORT the Squirrel came to life when TROY alumnae Dr. Dee Bennet and Monica Anderson Young saw the need presented by the youngest visitors to the state’s court system.
“It’s very scary walking into the courtroom or into an attorney’s office,” Champion said. “They figured what better way to fill that anxiousness than to have a friend who could teach you how to read and can teach you about the court system.”
Champion presented the idea for SHORT the Squirrel to members at the IDEA Bank, an idea from TROY Graphic Design professor Edward Noriega.
“He told me about the IDEA Bank and told me what kind of opportunities it could bring me,” Champion said. “We got a call back a couple of days later and I was at the IDEA Bank. It’s all very exciting.”
The first book, “SHORT Court,” was officially released to all counties in the state of Alabama in February.
Now at the IDEA Bank, Champion contributes to SHORT the Squirrel as the project’s manager.
Champion is in charge of the distribution of the literacy kits that includes a SHORT the Squirrel book, crayons, stickers and bookmarks.
“I’m in charge of distribution, making sure that every county has them,” Champion said. “I’m in many meetings with different offices throughout the state.
“I do a bunch of different stuff that just needs to be done behind the scenes. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve learned a lot without a doubt.”
SHORT the Squirrel is also now partnered with Children’s Hospital.
Champion will graduate this summer with a degree in communications before continuing her work at the IDEA Bank as a graduate assistant.
Champion credits the programs she is a part of at TROY for giving her the necessary skills to succeed.
“My professors have taught me how to be professional and how to keep being persistent through everything that you do,” Champion concluded. “[Alpha Gamma Delta] has just taught me a lot about how to make connections and how to serve and how to make your time worthwhile.
“TROY, between having all my jobs, has prepared me to be able to focus on the right things that are going to get me to the right path for my career.”