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Shaw University student and former cheerleader honored at pep rally

Posted September 10, 2015

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— A Shaw University student and former cheerleader was honored in a packed CC Spaulding Gym for a memorial pep really, where she was remembered for her vibrant personality.

Keyona Charlissa Verdell, 22, was struck by a car on New Hope Church Road in Raleigh around 6:15 p.m. on Monday, officials said.

This is the second time in three weeks that Shaw University mourned the loss of a student.

Shaw student Bryant Williams, 26, died last month in a motorcycle accident. He was a third-year student and a member of the band. More than 100 people attended a vigil in his honor, including his five-year-old daughter.

The Shaw cheerleading squad showcased routines Thursday afternoon at the rally, including routines that were choreographed by Verdell.

The 22-year-old had taken the semester off but was an active member of the squad behind the scenes.

“Every time Keyona would come home, I would have her doing cheers at the grocery store, in front of the church, wherever, because it always put a smile on all of our faces,” said Vedell’s mother, Rosie. “If I was in a sad mood, it would brighten me up every time. It was something with her and cheering. It connected and did something to me.”

The cheerleading squad said they would dedicate the upcoming season to their fallen teammate and presented Rosie Verdell with a basket of flowers and Keyona’s cheerleading uniform.

Verdell's funeral service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Winston-Salem State University.

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