Pember wheels her way to Sleeping Giant’s top

Kelly Kass

Emily Pember, a 21-year-old Quinnipac University senior, overcomes obstacles everyday.

She is, in her words, “A survivor of Spina Bifida,” one of the most commonly disabling birth defects. It results from the failure of the spine to close properly during the first month of pregnancy, and affects about one out of every 1,000 newborns in the United States.

Pember does not let the disorder stop her from living. Recently, she climbed to the top of Sleeping Giant Mountain in her wheelchair, with help from friends, Dan Shea and Heather Johansen, also members of Christian Fellowship.

“Emily is one of the most inspirational people that I know,” said Shea. “She has great strength in her heart and nothing stands in her way.”

Getting to the top of Sleeping Giant Mountain was a huge sense of accomplishment for Pember.

“I’ve wanted to get up there for four years, and finally proved that it was possible,” she said.

Pember is an enthusiastic social services major, who wants to work with kids that have disabilities after she graduates.

The Cromwell, Connecticut native says she faces barriers everyday physically and emotionally from people on campus.

Despite her unfortunate difficulties, she still remains upbeat and positive.

“I just take things one day at a time and have friends and family who help me and encourage me when I need it,” said Pember.

Pember is currently working on starting up a club for disability awareness at Quinnipiac called SAFEROADS.

The club is designed to promote disability awareness.

Pember hopes that everyone will take interest in the club’s objectives.

Pember believes her journey up the mountain will promote awareness.

“Climbing the mountain was just one of my first big steps to opening up this issue to people on campus and in the community surrounding Quinnipiac,” said Pember.

Sources: Spina Bifida Association of America at