Sarah Bellish snaps a selfie with Brianna Razzante at BW Homecoming

Sarah Bellish is achieving success in and out of the classroom, while knocking down barriers and leaving a lasting legacy on the BW campus.

Active Business Major Successfully Advocates for Improved Campus Accessibility

November 29, 2016

Sarah BellishSarah Bellish ’19 has accomplished a lot for a sophomore—holding leadership positions in her sorority and Greek Sing, working as a Resident Assistant (RA), getting involved in the Arts Management Association, and making the Dean’s List—but one of her early successes will leave a lasting legacy of improved campus accessibility, not just for herself, but for all students and visitors in the future.

After arriving on the Berea campus as a freshman, Bellish, who has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and uses a wheelchair, began to take on the accessibility issues she encountered, channeling frustration into advocacy and action.

“The problem is that many people don't even know that accessibility on campus is an issue,” she says. “The best thing you can do is to get the information to the right people, and provide solutions.” 

Spurring 'Amazing' Changes

2015 Jacket Princess and Prince, Sarah Bellish and Orlando Hopson“[BW] Disability Services mostly focus on academic accommodations, which is great, but that’s not necessarily everything that I need,” Bellish told MDA.org for a feature article. So, the business administration and arts management major from Worthington, Ohio took her concerns to President Bob Helmer and others… and they listened.

“After I came back after the summer, it was amazing to see all of the changes,” she says. One example: an unreliable lift in BW’s Strosacker Hall, that left Bellish stranded on more than one occasion during her freshman year, was replaced and now includes a climate-controlled waiting area.

“My goal has always been to improve the lives of people with disabilities,” Bellish explains. The improvements she’s inspired at BW go beyond access to facilities. Bellish is proud that she’s also changing mindsets. “I want people to not be afraid of disabilities because they don't understand it, I want them to be willing to ask questions, but most importantly I want them to be able to see the person and not the disability.”

Community and Sister Support

Sarah Bellish and her BW sorority sistersBellish, who was voted “Jacket Princess” at Homecoming her freshman year, has found open minds and encouragement within the BW community. “I fell in love with BW because of the people. I truly believe that we have one of the friendliest campuses. Everyone has truly made me feel as if BW is my home.”

Her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, in particular, has embraced the need for accessibility, successfully relocating housing and chapter rooms to a first-floor campus building and ensuring that recruitment events are all accessible as well.

Sarah Bellish led the 85th annual Greek SingHard Work, Goals and Dreams

Bellish, who organized the 85th annual Greek Sing at BW this fall, says event organization and nonprofit work is on her career radar. “I hope to work on the business side of a large arts organization one day,” she says, adding that grad school is also in her future.

Based on her BW track record, Bellish won’t let anything stand in her way.