LEE MAEd Student Niallah Cooper-Scruggs Wins Sharks on the Beach

MAEd with Leadership in Edible Education Graduate Student Niallah Cooper-Scruggs

Niallah Cooper-Scruggs, an AUS MAEd with Leadership in Edible Education graduate student, and the pastry chef and owner of Sugar Queen Bakery, recently won Urban Impact’s 2019 Sharks at the Beach entrepreneur pitch competition!

Urban Impact describes the competition in the following way: “Sharks At The Beach, a ‘Shark Tank’ styled pitch event, provides local entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their ideas and win start-up capital!”

Entrepreneurs in the competition each participated in a 10-week business development course at Seattle Pacific University, before pitching their business ideas to a panel of business experts in front of a live audience in the competition’s main event.

On Urban Impact Seattle’s blog, Cooper-Scruggs explains that the enthusiasm behind her career as a pastry chef and entrepreneur started when she was a child, inspired by her grandmother and mother. In her words, “When I was a little girl my grandmother used to bake this amazing angel food cake. She would be like ‘don’t touch it!’ I would stare and stare at it and imagine how one day I would be able to make my own angel food cake all on my own.”

In a recent television interview about Sugar Queen Bakery’s Sharks at the Beach win, Cooper-Scruggs told KING5 News that she picks locally-sourced ingredients in her baking, and emphasizes buying from farms and businesses owned by people of color. She explained, “Just because I think they’re marginalized in this community” and “they deal with a lot more issues in this area, as well.”

Cooper-Scruggs emphasizes social justice in more than one way in her work. In the Urban Impact blog interview with her, she describes more ways that she wants to make the world a better place. For example, she writes, “In culinary school, I didn’t learn a lot about black or brown chefs, let alone women in my field… My sister is young and when she sees a black heroine she automatically looks up to them. Because they represent her, she feels like she can accomplish whatever that person is accomplishing. I hope to be that kind of role model.”

Not only is Cooper-Scruggs making the world a better place by serving as a role model and public figure, she’s also “passionate about food access and healthy opportunities in neighborhoods that experience food deserts.” She also describes another dream for the future, saying “I want to give little girls and boys who come from low-income families free custom cakes for their birthdays.”

More information about Sugar Queen Bakery is available here.

More information about our Leadership in Edible Education program is available here.