Braille Monitor                                                                                                 August/September 2004

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The 2004 Scholarship Class
of the National Federation of the Blind

The scholarship Class of 2004:(left to right) back row: Darrel Kirby, Kagan Nuss, Domonique Lawless, Stephanie Brown, Amelia Cavallo, April Davis, Doronne Walker, Lynn Heitz, Lindsey Palumbo, and Laurel Henry: middle row: Sharon Giovinazzo, Yolanda Garcia, Amber Chesser, Kallie Smith, Nicholas Hoekstra, Tai Tomasi, Jerry Rodabaugh, Victor Wong, Ricardo Flores, and Rebekah Blackburn; front row: Lia Jacobsen, Thomas Page, Reanne Tangedal, Monty Anderson, Ahmed Salem, Mary Jo Thorpe, Caitlin Snyder, Lili Stansberry, Stephanie Hirst, and Rachel Werner.
The Scholarship Class of 2004: (left to right) back row: Darrel Kirby, Kagan Nuss, Domonique Lawless, Stephanie Brown, Amelia Cavallo, April Davis, Doronne Walker, Lynn Heitz, Lindsey Palumbo, and Laurel Henry; middle row: Sharon Giovinazzo, Yolanda Garcia, Amber Chesser, Kallie Smith, Nicholas Hoekstra, Tai Tomasi, Jerry Rodabaugh, Victor Wong, Ricardo Flores, and Rebekah Blackburn; front row: Lia Jacobsen, Thomas Page, Reanne Tangedal, Monty Anderson, Ahmed Salem, Mary Jo Thorpe, Caitlin Snyder, Lili Stansberry, Stephanie Hirst, and Rachel Werner.

From the Editor: With every passing year we recognize the increasing value of the National Federation of the Blindís Scholarship Program to our national organization. Members of previous scholarship classes--ninety-one past winners this year--stream back to take part in convention activities and assume responsibility, doing anything that they can see needs to be done. Everyone looks forward to meeting the new scholarship class and to hearing what its members are doing and planning to do with their lives.

On banquet evening, while we are still sky-high after listening to President Maurer's address, Peggy Elliott comes to the podium, presents the year's winners, giving an academic and personal sketch of each, and announces which scholarship the person has been awarded. This year each winner crossed the platform and shook hands with President Maurer and Ray Kurzweil, whose foundation presented each with an additional $1,000 scholarship and the latest version of the Kurzweil-1000 reading software.

The final scholarship awarded in this year's scholarship extravaganza, which took place at the banquet on July 4, was the Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship of $12,000, which was presented to Darrel Kirby, who then spoke briefly to the audience. His remarks appear later in this article.

But earlier in the week, at the meeting of the NFB board of directors, each 2004 scholarship winner came to the microphone and spoke directly to the Federation. Following is what they said about themselves. Each speaker was introduced by Peggy Elliott, who announced first the student's name and then both the home and school states. This is what was said:

Monty Anderson, Hawaii, Hawaii: Aloha, everybody. I'm attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa on the island of Oahu. I'll be entering a graduate program in clinical psychology with a dual in cognitive psychology in the fall. I plan to research therapies for people who have newly acquired disabilities.

Rebekah Blackburn, Indiana, Indiana: Thank you. My name is Rebekah Blackburn, and I am excited to be here. I'm currently enrolled at IV Tech State College in Indiana, and I am getting ready to finish my internship in the fall. Then I will pursue my master's degree at the University of Indianapolis with a master's in social work. After that I hope to practice working with and helping people, just giving them hope.

Stephanie Brown, Kentucky, Kentucky: Hello, everyone. I'm Stephanie Brown. I am currently attending the University of Louisville, where I am pursuing my bachelor's degree in elementary education and learning and behavior disorders. I plan to get my masterís degree at Louisiana Tech, where I will get the master of education in teaching blind students and possibly the mobility certification. Thank you.

Amelia Cavallo, New Mexico, New Mexico: Hi, everybody. I am attending the University of New Mexico and going into my junior year. I am majoring in theater with an emphasis in acting and musical theater. I am planning on going on an international exchange through my home university to England this fall. I hope to go to grad school and become a professor of theater and also work with either existing theater companies or create a new theater company that works specifically with blind and disabled actors. Thank you.

Amber Chesser, Louisiana, Louisiana: Good morning to the board of directors. It's great to be here. I will be a freshman at Louisiana Tech in the fall, majoring in psychology. I hope to work with children and their families. Thank you.

April Davis, Illinois, Louisiana: I am currently working on a masterís degree in education with a concentration in teaching blind students, and I am really excited about this because I didn't have the opportunity to learn the skills of blindness until after I finished my bachelorís degree and attended the Louisiana Center for the Blind. I'm really excited about reaching out to blind children and their families.

Ricardo Flores, Texas, Texas: I am a senior at Texas A&M University, majoring in history and minoring in geography with plans to pursue a master's in education administration. Some may be of the opinion that history belongs in the past. With my future credentials I plan to improve the future through education and political means. I will be certified to teach, and I have a long-term goal of participating in local and state politics. I will owe a large part of my success to this organization, and I am grateful for your generosity.

Yolanda Garcia, Texas, Texas: Good morning, everyone. I am currently attending the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, where I am a senior pursuing a double major in psychology and sociology. I plan on attending grad school in the near future after graduating to become a licensed professional counselor for adolescents. Some day I hope to have my own private practice. The Federation has given so much to me, and coming here six years ago after two weeks of being blind instilled a philosophy in me to give me hope that I can pursue the dreams I had before. Now blindness is not a hindrance. Thank you.

Sharon Giovinazzo, New York, New York: I'm attending Mohawk Valley Community College. I'm getting ready to finish my associate degree in human services with plans of pursuing my bachelorís in health sciences and then going on for a graduate degree in occupational therapy with an emphasis on technology.

Peggy Elliott: The National Federation of the Blind scholarship program also welcomes reapplication from people who have once before won a national scholarship. We term these people tenBroek Fellows in honor of the founder of our organization. This year we have four tenBroek Fellows, the first of whom is:

Lynn Heitz, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania: Good morning, everybody. I will be attending the University of Pennsylvania in the fall for a graduate degree in social work, but, most importantly, I'm going to use the degree to work with older adults who are losing their vision and their families to spread the word of the only positive philosophy of blindness, that of the National Federation of the Blind. Thank you.

Peggy Elliott: Also a tenBroek Fellow, here is:

Laurel Henry, Wyoming, Florida: Good morning, everyone. It's great to be here. This fall I will be a first-year graduate student at the University of South Florida, working on my masterís in social work with certification in marriage and family therapy. I would eventually like to become a licensed clinical social worker. I would just like to say that it's a wonderful honor to be here as a tenBroek Fellow. I won my first scholarship in Atlanta in 1999, and it's great to be back. I look forward to seeing you guys for many more years. Thanks so much.

Stephanie Hirst, Alabama, Alabama: Hello, everyone. I am a sophomore at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where I study biology and chemistry. After I complete my undergraduate studies, I would like to go to graduate school and pursue a doctoral degree in biochemistry because I want to do research. I just want to thank you for letting me be here. It's my first convention, and I am very excited.

Nick Hoekstra, Michigan, Michigan: Good morning. I'm Nicholas Hoekstra attending the University of Michigan. I'm going to be a junior in the fall. I am majoring in philosophy and psychology, and this coming winter I plan to study in Chile, so I hope to major in Spanish. This is my first NFB-related activity in my life so I am really excited, and I figured, so far in my life I have managed to rock a high school, rock a university, and now to rock the rest of the world.

Lia Jacobsen, Florida, Vermont:† Hello. I will be a freshman at Middlebury College starting in the fall studying comparative linguistics, which is the shortest track to get six languages so that I can be working in translation, politics, and as a professor. I am also going to be minoring in psychology, so hopefully I will be able to use that to aid in both the situation culturally dealing with blindness in different nations and politically.

Darrel Kirby, Iowa, Iowa: Good morning, fellow Federationists. I am up here today because a group of Iowans believed in me. Two years ago I became blind. I did not have the NFB. I was out to dinner with a friend, and a waitress came up to me, looked right past me, and asked my friend what I wanted to eat. The NFB has given me back my voice, and I am thankful for that. I currently serve as the president of the Iowa Association of Blind Students and was newly elected as the president of the Old Capital Chapter. I will be starting my masterís degree in social work in the fall at the University of Iowa, where I will show many people that they too have a voice that can be heard.

Domonique Lawless, Tennessee, Tennessee: Hello. This past May I graduated in the class of 2004 from high school, and in August I will be entering Belmont University as a freshman. Right now I am planning on double majoring in psychology and German with a music minor. I have an inkling about what I want to do--I can either open up a practice or do criminal profiling. Then there is a possibility I could teach German. I am looking forward to that, and I still have enough time to decide. I am honored to be here. Thank you.

Kagan Nuss, Delaware, Virginia: Good morning, everybody. As a first-time convention attendee, it is a great privilege to be able to speak here in front of the group, albeit for a brief moment. This year I will be an incoming freshman at the newly dubbed University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, Virginia. They accepted me in the honors program. I was kind of happy about that. I plan on obtaining an undergrad in business administration, and later I would like to go to graduate school for law.

Tom Page, Kansas, Kansas: Thank you. I am so honored to be here today. I am pursuing a masterís degree in interdisciplinary research methods--got about three semesters left. I want to thank the NFB of Kansas, especially Donna Wood, and also the KRCB for helping me be here today, and all of you for everything you do here. Thank you so much.

Lindsey Palumbo, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania: Thanks, guys. Apparently some of you out there have heard of me. I'm attending Clarion University. I will be a senior there this fall. I'm double majoring in special education and rehabilitative sciences. I'd later like to go on for my masterís and explore a career as a diagnostician. If you don't know what that is, it's people who administer and score tests. I'm also attending the Colorado Center for the Blind this summer. I'd like to thank you for this opportunity to be up here today. Thank you.

Jerry Rodabaugh, Idaho, Idaho: Good morning. I am currently attending the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho, trying to achieve a degree in psychology with hopes of becoming a rehabilitation counselor. Thank you.

Ahmed Salem, California, New York: Good morning. Can everyone hear me all right? Awesome. I am from California. This is my first time in the National Federation of the Blind. Actually I've been in the United States for four years, and this is my first involvement with any organization which is for the blind and by the blind, so I am extremely, extremely happy to be here. I am going to be attending Cornell University in the fall, hopefully triple majoring in economics, psychology, and government. I am planning to go to Yale Law and practice international law or civil rights law. That's what I plan to do, and I am very honored to be here. I am very honored to call myself a Federationist. Thank you very much.

Caley Smith, Iowa, Iowa:† Good morning, fellow Federationists. This fall I will be attending the University of Northern Iowa as a freshman. Right now I would like to pursue a career in social work, so I am majoring in social work. I am going to keep my options open and see what my interests are really like. I would like to say that without all of you I would not be where I am today, so thank you.

Caitlin Snyder, Michigan, Ohio: Good morning, fellow Federationists. I am Caitlin Snyder, and this fall I will be a freshman at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. I'm planning to study political science and philosophy. I would just like to thank the scholarship committee and especially the board of directors for giving me the opportunity to come here this year. Thank you.

Lili Stansberry, Washington, Washington: Hi, everyone. First of all, I'd like to say that I am grateful for this opportunity to be here and deeply honored to be a scholarship recipient. I am a senior seeking a master's degree in business administration with a specialization in human resources and a minor in pre-law. It is my goal to attend law school and become an attorney. In closing I'd like to say that prior to the Federation I lived my life using the word "if." What if I could drive? What if I could see? But now I live my life saying "when": when I get my bachelorís, when I get to law school, when I become an attorney. For this I am deeply grateful.

Reanne Yvonne Tangedal, Montana, Montana: Good morning, fellow Federationists, board of directors. It's an honor to be here. It's my first national convention. I've had a very positive, fulfilling, wonderful experience so far. I know that I will be coming back to national convention for many years to come. I am currently attending Montana State University in Billings. I will be a senior this fall. I am double majoring in elementary and special education. My plans eventually are to attend a graduate program (I am not sure where yet, but I will decide eventually) to receive a specialty in low vision teaching at the elementary level. I became involved with the NFB in 2001 shortly after I graduated from high school, so I am on my fourth year of being a member of the Montana affiliate of the NFB, the Montana Association of the Blind. It is a great honor to be here. I plan to learn a lot, and thank you very much.

Peggy Elliott: Next we have another tenBroek Fellow. This is Mademoiselle NOMC and tenBroek Fellow:

Mary Jo Thorpe, Utah, Louisiana: Hello again, I am a graduate student at Louisiana Tech University. I am pursuing a masterís in education with a concentration in teaching blind students in orientation and mobility. I recently received my orientation and mobility certification, which I am very excited for and very proud of. I hope after graduation to work with blind students in the school system to teach blindness training to them. I just want to thank everyone for the opportunity to be a tenBroek scholar this year. This organization has come to mean such a great deal to me over the last few years that I have been part of it. Thank you.

Peggy Elliott: Tai Tomasi. This is another tenBroek Fellow:

Teresa A. Tomasi, Utah, Arkansas: President Maurer, board of directors, fellow Federationists. It is an honor to be here as a tenBroek scholar this year. My first Federation convention was in 2000 here in Atlanta. I have just graduated from the University of Arkansas with honors with a degree in political science, and will be going on in the fall to pursue a joint degree program in law and political administration at the University of Utah. As one of twenty-three adopted siblings with a single mother, I learned at a very young age the importance of staying tenacious. With this tenacity came the desire to be treated equally. Our Federation has taught me to understand that I cannot expect equal rights without assuming equal responsibility. This concept has seen me through many challenging situations, and it will allow me to achieve my goals. It is for that that I wish to thank my Federation family.

Duronne Walker, Illinois, Illinois: Hello, everyone. I am extremely honored to be here. I am attending the University of Illinois and working on my Ph.D. in educational policy studies. I am currently writing a dissertation on student disability in higher education. My goal is to show the world that people with disabilities can be an asset rather than a liability. Thank you.

Rachel Werner, Oklahoma, Oklahoma: Hey guys, how's it goiní?† You guys are great. I am a senior at the University of Central Oklahoma, where I am pursuing a double major in psychology and sociology. I will be attending graduate school at the University of Oklahoma. I will pursue a doctorate in psychology with a focus on children who have experienced rape trauma and been the victims of other deviant acts. I really want to do counseling with those kids and their families and just try to get to the bottom of that whole psychological mentality behind that. Louisville was my first convention last year. I had really thought I was alone in wanting to be a blind person who was successful, who had a competitive edge with her sighted peers, but I came to Louisville and found out I was dead wrong. I had a family, and I thank you guys for that.

Victor Wong, New York, New York: I'm deeply honored to be here. Thank you for this chance. I am currently attending Cornell University at the graduate level, studying physics--to be specific, space physics--and doing the solar-system-type things. So I am hoping either to teach or to end up being a researcher somewhere, like NASA, if I cannot find a job as a faculty member. Thank you.

Peggy Elliott: There, Dr. Maurer and fellow Federationists, is the class of 2004. [applause]

On July 4, Scholarship Committee Chairman Peggy Elliott announced the 2004 scholarship awards. As each winner crossed the platform, President Maurer offered congratulations, and Raymond Kurzweil presented each with a $1,000 check from the Kurzweil Educational Foundation, the latest version of the Kurzweil-1000 reading software, and a beautiful plaque. The winner of the 2004 Kenneth Jernigan Memorial Scholarship of $12,000 was Darrel Kirby of Iowa. He spoke briefly to the banquet audience. This is what he said:

Darrel Kirby
Darrel Kirby

I would just like to say I hope everyone in this room gets the chance, at least once in their life, to feel the way I do right now. I am honored. I would like to thank all Federationists--my family, my friends, my brothers and sisters. I am here because of your love and support. I'd also like to extend a thanks to the leaders in our movement both present and past. They'll never be truly past; they still live in us today--Dr. Jacobus tenBroek and Dr. Kenneth Jernigan. I'd also like to thank Dr. Maurer. He's worked hard up to this point and has convinced us that he's going to work hard into the future.

I sat in a room much like this just one year ago in Louisville, Kentucky. It was my first convention. I was new to blindness, and I listened to the address of Dr. Maurer. After his address I made it a priority to remove one phrase from my life. That phrase was, "But I'm blind." I had said, "I want to return to school, and I want to do well, but I'm blind. I want a job. I want to be successful, but I'm blind. I want to have a family, but I'm blind." I realized that I must remove that one phrase if I was ever to go anywhere in my life.

This year, since I removed that phrase from my life, I've adopted a new one. With the help of my mentors this week and every person in this room, I've adopted the phrase, "because I am a Federationist." I have found myself saying, "I will succeed because I am a Federationist. I will never be alone because I am a Federationist, and I will not be lost because I am a Federationist." Like everyone in this room we will succeed, we will never be lost, and we will never be alone because we are Federationists.

I encourage you to take tonight, this day, this week, or all of your accumulated experience in the National Federation of the Blind and let them motivate you. Let this be your independence day. Thank you. [applause]

Here is the complete list of 2004 scholarship winners and the awards they received:

$3,000 National Federation of the Blind Scholarships: Monty Anderson, Rebekah Blackburn, Stephanie Brown, Amelia Cavallo, Amber Chesser, Sharon Giovinazzo, Nicholas Hoekstra, Lia Jacobsen, Lindsey Palumbo, Kallie Smith, Caitlin Snyder, Reanne Tangedal, Duronne Walker, and Rachel Werner

$3,000 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Contractors Association Scholarships:† Stephanie Hirst, Thomas Page,† and Victor Wong

$3,000 National Federation of the Blind Educator of Tomorrow Award: April R. Davis

$3,000 Hermione Grant Calhoun Scholarship: Domonique Lawless

$3,000 Kuchler-Killian Memorial Scholarship: Ahmed Salem

$3,000 Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship: Kagan Scott Nuss

$3,000 E. U. Parker Scholarship: Jerry Rodabaugh

$5,000 Michael and Marie Marucci Scholarship: Ricardo Flores

$5,000 Jennica Ferguson Memorial Scholarship: Yolanda Garcia

$5,000 Sally S. Jacobsen Scholarship: Lili Stansberry

$5,000 Hank LeBonne Scholarship: Laurel Henry

$7,000 National Federation of the Blind Scholarships: Lynn Heitz and Mary Jo Thorpe

$10,000 Charles and Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship: Teresa A. Tomasi

$12,000 Kenneth Jernigan Memorial Scholarship: Darrel Kirby

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