Photo of scholarship class of 1998 (6398 bytes)

The Scholarship Class of 1998

From the Editor: Twenty-six men and women from Vermont to California arrived at the Hyatt Regency DFW as members of the National Federation of the Blind scholarship class of 1998. Not counting their expense-paid trips to the convention, this year the class divided $88,000 in scholarship awards, which were made at the close of the Thursday, July 9, banquet. This year's class is a remarkable group of students—bright, energetic, and eager to change the world. They met the full convention during the meeting of the Board of Directors on Monday morning. Four of the winners were designated as tenBroek Fellows because they had won scholarships in a previous year and had been chosen this year not only because of their impressive academic record but also because of the contribution they have already made to the organized blind movement. Peggy Elliott, Chairman of the Scholarship Committee, introduced each student by saying the name, home state, and school state. This is what each student had to say:

Catherine Armstrong, Virginia, Connecticut: Good morning. I would just say to the scholarship committee, it's a genuine pleasure to be here today and thank you very much. Recently I graduated from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, and will be attending as a freshman Yale University this fall. I don't know what I want to major in, but this convention has given me a lot of things to think about as far as that goes, and I want to say congratulations and good luck to all the other scholarship winners and thank you very much for allowing me to be here.

Eddie Bell, California, Louisiana: Good morning. I just graduated in May with my bachelor's degree in human development. I am currently at Louisiana Tech University working on my master's degree in orientation and mobility and will hopefully be working at one of our fine NFB centers teaching cane travel very soon. This is my sixth convention. My very first was right here in Dallas, Texas, 1993. I'm very proud and honored to be selected as a tenBroek fellow this year.

Amanda Bourn, Oklahoma, Oklahoma: Hi. I've lived in Oklahoma for the last three years and am going to attend Oklahoma University this fall as a freshman. I plan to major in linguistics and hope to get into translation for a career goal. Thank you very much for this experience.

Tomas Cintron, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico: Good morning Dallas. I'm a student at Inter American University of Puerto Rico. My major is special education in my handicap. I'm very proud to be here. Thank you to the committee for selecting me to participate in this scholarship. Thank you.

Eddie Culp, Louisiana, Louisiana with a detour this summer in Colorado: Mornin' all. Hi. My name is Eddie Culp. I'm attending Louisiana University, double majoring in political science and history, minoring in English. I hope to attend law school and someday get into politics. I'm very glad to be here. I'd like to thank the scholarship committee for helping me make it here, and also to thank God.

David Dzaka, Hawaii, Hawaii: Hello everybody. I'm David Dzaka from the University of Hawaii, greatly honored to be here. I'm a Ph.D. candidate in English, and I have great ambition to be a college professor as well as a writer. In addition, I also look forward to serving as an international delegate of the NFB. I appreciate this opportunity.

Ameenah Ghoston, Illinois, Illinois (a tenBroek fellow): Hi. My name is Ameenah Ghoston. I will be a junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. After declaring so many majors, my advisor said to declare something, anything. I chose journalism, and I think I will stick with it. Thank you.

Karla Gilbride, New York, Pennsylvania: Hello everybody. My name is Karla Gilbride. I just graduated a couple of weeks ago from Syossa High School in Long Island, New York. In a month or so I'm going to be a freshman at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. I'm very excited about it. I plan to major in psychology and possibly also linguistics. I also love to sing, and I want to pursue an interest in music during my college years. I'm really honored to have been selected among this illustrious group of scholarship winners. Thank you very much for the honor, and goodbye.

Lauren Hunter, Colorado, Colorado: My name is Lauren Hunter. I'm going into my senior year at Fort Lewis College. I'm a humanities major and studying political science, English, and sociology, with a minor in history. I hope to go to law school and get into civil rights mediation. I'd like to thank the Scholarship Committee and all of my fellow Federationists, who have had a great influence in my life. Thank you.

Jason Hutton, Indiana, Indiana: Hello. My name is Jason Hutton, and I would just like to thank the National Federation of the Blind for this scholarship. This is my first Federation experience, and I didn't know that with the scholarship came this opportunity to be educated by all these wonderful people. That is what I would like to thank you the most for—the opportunity to learn about blindness and this organization. I'm a sophomore at Butler University next year, and I will be a band director after I graduate. Thank you.

Rik James, Montana, Louisiana: Good morning. I just love being here, and I appreciate the scholarship committee's choosing me—what an honor. Very impressive committee, very impressive group of winners. I am very humbled and deeply honored. I am currently enrolled in the master's program at Louisiana Tech University seeking an educational psychology degree with concentration in orientation and mobility. I plan to be a cane travel instructor. The training down there is rigorous; our methods are sound; our purposes are clear. We believe in the techniques and the ability of blind people. I intend to be a cane travel instructor of whom hopefully all of you people will be proud. My career aspirations are intertwined with my Federationism to help my affiliate along, one blind person at a time, to make things better for all of us. Thank you very much.

Calvin Keuchler, Ohio, Ohio: All honor and praise goes to the Almighty, my ancestors whom I represent, and for the children who might struggle. I want to be an educator. I received my bachelor's at Oberlin College in Spanish with an intention of going into a master's in math education at the Ohio State University. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this. It adds new meaning and new heights to what I know I can achieve.

Adam LaSalle, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, with a detour this summer in Louisiana: I am originally from Pennsylvania, where I went to Swarthmore. I am attending graduate school in North Carolina because I intend to go for my doctorate and teach college history and possibly political science. I'm glad to be here, and I thank the committee for choosing me.

Angie McJunkin, Tennessee, Tennessee: I'd like to thank the scholarship committee and say what an honor it is to be here. I just graduated from the Tennessee School for the Blind, and I will be attending Trevecca University in Nashville, where I plan to major in English education and then go on to get a master's in special education and hopefully help other blind students.

Priscilla McKinley (another tenBroek fellow), Iowa, Iowa:

Hi. I'm Priscilla McKinley. I am the newly elected president of the Old Capital Chapter in Iowa City. I am glad to say we now have five chapters in Iowa. I am a graduate student at the University of Iowa. I'm finishing my thesis in the M.F.A. non-fiction writing program, and I'm starting the graduate program in English education in the fall. I teach writing and rhetoric at the University of Iowa. Two years ago, when I stood up here in 1996, I had three goals: one was to teach, which I'm pursuing. Two was to top Robert Waller in the New York Times Best Sellers' List—and I hope to do that with my thesis. I'm having one of my chapters published. My third goal was to be like the other people here who have been here twenty, twenty-five, thirty years. This is my third convention, and I'm counting. Thanks a lot.

Tiffany Medina, California, Massachusetts: Hi everyone. I'm really honored to be here today. I just graduated from Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto, California, where I worked hard— played hard too. I was first runner-up for valedictorian. I'm really excited to go to Williams College this September, where I will be exploring a lot of my interests. My major as of now is undecided, but I'm looking at teaching or international relations. Thanks everyone.

Nhu Nguyen, Kentucky, Tennessee: Good morning. I'm a second-year law student at Vanderbilt University. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and communications from the University of Louisville. While I have learned a lot of information in college, a lot of my knowledge and some of my wisdom has come from the NFB. Thank you.

Ellen Nichols, Maryland, Pennsylvania: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It's such a privilege to be here this morning, for which I thank the Lord. I am anticipating attending Messiah College near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where I will major in Spanish and minor in music. My long term goal is to be a missionary. In the meantime, I guess I will do translation in general or things like that. Thank you very much.

Brenda Patterson, Vermont, Vermont: Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you warmly for bringing me for this first time into your very caring family. Next fall I begin my life as a blind student at the University of Vermont doing graduate studies in the history of international law. I thank you again. Following me is another fellow Vermonter.

Steve Smith, Vermont, Vermont: Good morning. I am currently enrolled in the graduate program and I am studying community psychology. Last year I graduated from Norwich University with a degree in psychology and counseling. When I've finished my education, I am going to be counseling people—self-employed. I just want to say that I think Winn-Dixie will be getting their education.

Tanya Stewart, New York, Louisiana: I'd like to thank my NFB family. I've been in the Federation now for two years, and without you I'd never pursue the education that I'm going to. I'm going to Louisiana Tech University for a degree in elementary education, and two years ago I never thought it was possible, because at that point I didn't know that, even if I survived college, I could ever teach. So I thank you very much and thank you for being my family and supporting me all the way through. I am currently in Louisiana working for the Louisiana Center for the Blind, and I graduated from the adult program in March. Thank you.

Sathish Sundaram, Michigan, Massachusetts: Good morning everyone. I will be attending Harvard University and majoring in either physics or mechanical engineering. I plan to design musical instruments. My minor at Harvard will be in medieval underwater basket-weaving—wait, no, that's not right. It's something in which the job market is equally scarce—I'll be a music performance minor. I would say "goodbye" to you, but I hope to be speaking to you again on Thursday night, so I'll just say, "Thank you all."

Daryl Swinson, Arkansas, Arkansas (tenBroek fellow): Good morning fellow Federationists. I'm going to be a senior at Arkansas Tech University. I'm a computer science major. I deeply appreciate the honor given me by the scholarship committee by allowing me to be a part of the scholarship class this year, but the true gift of being here at the convention is that you get to meet so many inspirational people, and it gives you the opportunity to make the NFB philosophy an integral part of your life. That's the true gift that I take away from these conventions. Thank you very much.

Arnold Thomas, Nevada, Utah: Good morning. It's my first conference here other than the state conference. I have a degree to be a basketball coach and a football coach, and I also have a degree in psychology. Currently I am working on my master's degree at the University of Utah in social work. I hope to pursue a Ph.D., hopefully at Cal Berkeley in California. I'm a native American from Nevada originally, and I would like to offer a short song to those individuals that are here today, also to go along with what happened earlier with the gift that was given to Mr. President there. I offer this short song. (He then sang a brief Native American song.) Thank you everyone.

Stephanie Thompson, Utah, Utah: Charlotte Bronte, who is well-known as the author of Jane Eyre, but less well known for her struggle with myopia and limited vision, once wrote, "Throughout my youth the difference which existed between me and the people around me was an enigma that I could not solve. I felt myself inferior to everyone, and it distressed me." When I read those words, I felt as though someone had looked on my own soul, and I determined to seek out biographies of other blind and visually impaired women in the nineteenth century. I want to thank the NFB for helping me in that project, not only by giving me the money to help pursue a Ph.D., but also in giving me the confidence to overcome those feelings of inferiority and to recognize that difference can be strength. Thank you.

Greg Williams, Indiana, Indiana: Good morning. I would like to thank the scholarship committee for giving me the opportunity to come to the NFB Convention. This has been my first exposure to the NFB, and it has given me the opportunity to get to know the likes of people like Dr. Jernigan, Dr. Maurer, and the scholarship committee themselves. Let me tell you, I'm very impressed with what I have seen. I am currently attending Indiana University. I finished my sophomore year this past spring, and I am majoring in chemistry and math with the intent of going into teaching and research. I would like to thank God for what He has given me. Thank you.

Throughout the week these twenty-six scholarship winners got to know Federationists and participated in convention activities. Thursday evening, July 9, at the close of the banquet they received their scholarship certificates, and Stephanie Thompson, the winner of the 1998 $10,000 American Action Fund Scholarship, briefly addressed the audience. This is what she said:

Picture of Stephanie Thompson

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Stephanie Thompson]

Thank you so much. Overwhelmed isn't quite the word, but it's close. Until earlier tonight during Dr. Maurer's wonderful speech—that was the first time I ever heard that I was a partial. Before that I had heard as early as the age of eight, when my third grade teacher decided to humiliate me in front of the entire class, that I was faking it, because there are two types of people in the world: blind people and sighted people. I heard the same thing from my itinerant teacher about ten years later when I desperately wanted to learn Braille. I was sighted, not blind; therefore I was not eligible for any Braille or cane mobility instruction. Well, I heard that—and please correct me if I'm wrong, and I trust that you will. I heard also earlier this week that there are two types of people—blind people and sighted—and I am so thrilled and excited to find out that I'm a blind person and that I have every right and ought to seize the privilege of associating and being seen as a blind person and of learning those skills which will make me a better person. [applause]

I cannot praise and thank Dr. Jernigan and President Maurer, not only for making this possible, but for their invigorating and wonderful talks during this conference—I really do not want to cry. But I also want to say to them and their wonderful wives and to all of you out there: I feel as though this is the beginning of a big change in my life. This is one of those momentous occasions that I could never want to go back on and that I think will be beyond words. That's it. I just ran out of them. But I do wish again to thank the scholarship committee, the wonderful people here—and I know that I will leave somebody out—so I won't do the Academy award thing and name everybody and their dog, but really everybody here, thank you so much. Especially again President Maurer and Dr. Jernigan. [applause]

Peggy Elliott: Scholarship winners, I do have one other quick thing I would like to say to you as a scholarship class. We have spent the week with you. We have talked and talked with each of you about the Federation. We have also walked that quarter-mile walk, waited for elevators, ascended the stairs, shared barbecue, played cards, laughed, cried, and talked some more. Most of all we have offered to you the gift we think is of much more value than the check we will give you. We offer to you the National Federation of the Blind, the most precious thing we have. We of the Federation have poured our minds and our hearts and our souls into building this Federation. We love and cherish it and deeply wish that each of you will do the same. The Federation is a winner, but your strength can add to our momentum and to our success. We offer this gift wrapped in the love which is the fundamental bond among Federationists. Join us, and that bond of love, as well as first-class status for all blind people, will both grow and prosper. From us (we hope) to others of us, we say to you congratulations 1998 scholarship winners! [applause]

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

$3,000 NFB Scholarships: Catherine Armstrong, Amanda Bourn,

Eddie Culp, Ameenah Ghoston, Karla Gilbride, Lauren Hunter, Jason

Hutton, Calvin Keuchler, Adam LaSalle, Angela McJunkin, Nhu

Nguyen, and Arnold Thomas

$3,000 Frank Walton Horn Memorial Scholarship: Sathish


$3,000 Hermione Grant Calhoun Scholarship: Ellen Nichols

$3,000 Kuchler-Killian Memorial Scholarship: Steven Smith

$3,000 Humanities Scholarship: David Dzaka

$3,000 Mozelle and Willard Gold Memorial Scholarship:

Tiffany Medina

$3,000 Educator of Tomorrow Scholarship: Tanya Stewart

$3,000 Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship: Greg Williams

$3,000 E. U. Parker Memorial Scholarship: Rik James

$3,000 Computer Science Scholarship: Daryl Swinson

$4,000 NFB Scholarships: Eddie Bell and Tomas Cintron

$4,000 Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship: Priscilla


$10,000 American Action Fund Scholarship: Stephanie Thompson