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Braille Monitor - August/September 2000 Edition

 

The Scholarship Class of 2000

The Scholarship Class of 2000.
The Scholarship class of 2000: (left to right) back row: Kristen Witucki,
Nathan Danes, Peter Berg, Amy Mason, Jessica McKinney, Nicole Ditzler,
Zachary Battles, Rod Barker, Nathanael Wales, and Erik Motsinger;
middle row: Angela Sasser, Stacy Cervenka, Thomas Philip,
Michael Leiterman, Suzanne Westhaver, John Miller, Cheralyn Braithwaite,
Kelsey Korsgard, Melinda Zuniga, and Teresa (Tai) Tomasi;
front row: Kimberly Aguillard, Debra DeLorey, Priscilla Ching,
Lisa Hansen, Brook Sexton, Melissa Lehman, Jessica Hosier,
Seth Leblond, Robin House, and Denise Cunningham.

 

From the Editor: In celebration of and preparation for leadership in the new millennium, the National Federation of the Blind this year expanded our scholarship program yet again. During the annual banquet on July 7 we awarded thirty scholarships: twenty-two in the amount of $3,000, four of $5,000, three of 7,000, and the newly named Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship of $21,000. This last award was made in recognition of the new century. It will return to $10,000 next year.

In addition, in memory of Dr. Jernigan, the Kurzweil Foundation again presented an additional $1,000 scholarship, a document scanner, and, from the Kurzweil Education Group, the latest software for the Kurzweil 1000 reading system to each winner. Dr. Ray Kurzweil was on the platform to present a check and plaque to each student during the ceremony.

This year's was a remarkably strong class. At the banquet Peggy Elliott, Chairman of the Scholarship Committee, made a few remarks while the winners were making their way to the platform and then read each name in turn with the name of the award being made and a brief description of what the student is studying and planning to do in the future. This is what she said:

The National Federation of the Blind is in the business of meeting challenges. I was reminiscing this evening with Mrs. Jernigan and Father Gregory about Dr. Jernigan, who was one of the first people ever to give me challenges. Dr. Jernigan gave to all of us. He gave a lot of us Macadamia nuts, or a persimmon or two, and fresh cantaloupe--he gave, he gave. But he loved most to give challenges and to accept challenges himself. He was never better than when he was reveling in a challenge and devising a solution to that challenge. Dr. Jernigan challenged each one of us in the National Federation of the Blind to find our inner selves and to find the way to make our lives the best they could be, and then to make sure to reach out and link hands with other blind people. He challenged us to grow ourselves and also to grow with the National Federation of the Blind.

Of course tonight we've addressed another challenge in the growth of the National Federation of the Blind, the Capital Campaign to add to our National Federation's Center for the Blind. Now the thirty men and women we're about to meet and honor are also challenge-meeters. Each of these men and women has gone to college or graduate school. These men and women have not only passed, they have prevailed--they're at the tops of their classes, and they're also present and future leaders of the National Federation of the Blind, which is the organization that will meet the challenges for the future of blind people.

Allen Harris asked me when I came up here, "How much money are we giving away tonight?" I said, "Well it depends on which answer you want." But when you add it all up together, which I am about to do for you, I got the number $203,000! We will be giving twenty-two scholarships each in the amount of $3,000. We'll be giving four scholarships each in the amount of $5,000. We'll be giving three scholarships each in the amount of $7,000 and one scholarship in the amount of $21,000.

Some of these scholarships I am about to read to you have been endowed by individuals or families. Many of the scholarships, in fact the vast majority, have been endowed by you and me, members of the National Federation of the Blind, and generous donors who support our work. I will in each case identify the person as the donor unless it is all of us, and those are the scholarships named the National Federation of the Blind. In addition to the money I just listed for you, we have the opportunity and the participation of Dr. Ray Kurzweil in the scholarship presentation as well. Dr. Kurzweil, as you can tell, was a friend and admirer of Dr. Jernigan and, in honor and in memory of Dr. Jernigan, will add to the money I've already told you about. To each scholarship winner he will present a check for $1,000, a scanner, and a plaque that is embossed in both print and Braille--those three items being provided by the Kurzweil Foundation. In addition to them the Kurzweil 1000 software used with the scanner is donated by the Kurzweil Education Group of Lernout and Hauspie. The total value of Dr. Kurzweil's enhancement to each scholarship winner in cash, hardware, and software is $2,500.

As each scholarship winner's name is called, I will read a few remarks about him or her. He or she will come onto the stage, move to the center, and have the opportunity to shake hands with and be congratulated by Dr. Maurer. After Dr. Maurer has had that opportunity, Dr. Kurzweil is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him and will also have a chance to congratulate and to talk to each of the scholarship winners.

Scholarship winners of the year 2000: the first thirteen scholarships I am going to read are scholarships each in the amount of $3,000:

Rod A. Barker, Oregon, Oregon: Rod is completing his senior year at Portland State University, where he is earning a bachelor's degree in business and finance and is about to enter his career as a law student at the University of Oregon School of Law in the fall. Rod's vocational goal is obviously to be a lawyer. [applause begin] Ladies and gentlemen, there are twenty-nine other wonderful people; let's hold applause for all of them until the end.

Denise L. Cunningham, Missouri, Missouri: Denise is currently not in school, being employed full-time teaching first- and second-graders near her home in St. Louis. She is entering the University of Missouri at St. Louis in the fall as a first-year graduate student, where she intends to earn a Ph.D. in education and become a professor of elementary education.

Nicole E. Ditzler, Minnesota, Minnesota: Nicole has just completed her junior year and will begin her senior year in the fall at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she is earning a bachelor's degree in psychology with a concentration in child and family studies. She intends ultimately to earn a Ph.D. in psychology and to become a Head Start teacher and eventually a family therapist.

Lisa Ann Hansen, Wisconsin, Wisconsin: Lisa is currently enrolled at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, where she has just completed her sophomore year. Lisa is earning a bachelor's degree in elementary education with a minor in Spanish. She intends to earn an advanced degree in education and become a middle-school teacher of language arts and Spanish. Lisa is a chapter president in the National Federation of the Blind.

Jessica Ann Hosier, Iowa, Iowa: Jessica is currently not in school and will be returning to her studies at the University of Iowa in the fall, where she will be a junior. She is currently earning a bachelor's in social work and intends to make herself a career as a social worker in the rehabilitation context.

Robin L. House, Missouri, Missouri: Robin is enrolled at the University of Missouri at St. Louis and is classified as a senior. Robin is currently earning a bachelor's in elementary education. She intends to go on and earn a master's degree and become an elementary school counselor.

Kelsey Lynn Cox Korsgard, Oklahoma, Oklahoma: Kelsey is a graduate student at Oklahoma State University, where she will be beginning her second year in the fall. She is earning a master's degree in marriage and family therapy, and she intends to be in private practice as a marriage and family therapist.

Melissa A. Lehman, Wisconsin, Wisconsin: Melissa is attending the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she will be a senior in the fall. Her degree program is a bachelor's in psychology, and she intends to earn advanced degrees in her chosen field and to be a child psychologist. Melissa is the President of the Wisconsin Association of Blind Students.

Amy Crystal Mason, Nebraska, Illinois: Amy is attending Lincoln Christian College, where she will be a sophomore in the fall. Amy is earning a bachelor's degree in counseling and intends to be a Christian counselor for children in crisis. She is an officer of her state student division.

Jessica Bates McKinney, South Carolina, South Carolina: Jessica is currently attending Furman University, where she will be classified as a junior in the fall, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology and political science. It seems to me that some of our politicians should do the same. Jessica intends to become a psychologist.

John A. Miller, California, California: John is the first of our five tenBroek fellows this year. He won his first scholarship from the National Federation of the Blind in the year 1988. John is currently a graduate student at the University of California at San Diego. He is earning a Ph.D. in electronic and computer engineering, and he wants to be an electrical engineering professor. His professors say he is a truly brilliant student and teacher.

Teresa (Tai) Tomasi, Massachusetts, Vermont: Tai is studying at the University of Vermont, where she will be a junior in the fall. Tai is earning a bachelor's degree in political science and in French. She intends to earn a juris doctorate and to be a disability advocacy lawyer or lobbyist.

Melinda Louise Zuniga, Montana, Montana: Melinda is currently studying in the graduate program at the University of Montana, where she is earning a master's degree in physical therapy. Melinda intends to be a physical therapist and to emphasize the treatment of back pain.

The next scholarship is entitled National Federation of the Blind Educator of Tomorrow Award in the amount of $3,000.

Brook Nichole Sexton, California, Utah: Brook is a tenBroek fellow who won her first scholarship in 1996. She is currently a senior at Brigham Young University, where she is earning a bachelor's degree in family science with a concentration in human development. Brook intends to be a teacher of blind children and serves as President of the Utah Association of Blind Students.

The National Federation of the Blind Humanities Scholarship in the amount of $3,000.

Kristen M. Witucki, New Jersey, New York: Kristen is a graduating high school senior from Overbrook Regional High School. She is entering Vassar College as a freshman in the fall. She will be earning a bachelor's degree in English, and she wants to be a high school English teacher.

The National Federation of the Blind Computer Science Scholarship in the amount of $3,000.

Zachary J. Battles, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania: Zachary is earning three different academic degrees--two undergraduate and one advanced, at the same time. I'm not exactly sure what they are, but he is at Pennsylvania State University. He is earning degrees in the areas of computer science and mathematics, and he will conclude his studies with a Ph.D. in computer science. Zach obviously intends to be a computer scientist, but I also want to mention that Zach has a vocation of teaching English as a second language to his current country of interest, the Ukraine.

Hermione Grant Calhoun Scholarship in the amount of $3,000.

Stacy Leigh Cervenka, Illinois, Minnesota: Stacy will be a sophomore in the fall at Concordia College, where she is earning a bachelor's degree in political science and French. She intends to conclude her studies by earning a juris doctorate degree and then to become a foreign service officer. Stacy serves in her state student division as an officer.

The Mozelle and Willard Gold Memorial Scholarship for $3,000 endowed by Sharon Gold in loving memory of her parents. We all know the contribution Sharon has made to the National Federation of the Blind. She in turn chose to honor her parents with this scholarship, which goes to:

Priscilla Ching, California, Louisiana: Priscilla is currently attending Louisiana Tech University in a master's degree program in educational psychology with a concentration in O & M, and she wants to design and coordinate programs for blind children.

The Frank Walton Horn Memorial Scholarship is given by Katherine Horn Randall and her family in memory of Katherine's father. The amount is $3,000, and the scholarship, if possible, is to be given to a person who is studying in one of the non-traditional fields for a blind person--one of the hard sciences:

Nathan Earl Danes, Idaho, Idaho: Nathan is currently studying at Albertsons College in Idaho, where he will be a sophomore in the fall. He is earning a bachelor of science degree in physics and computer science. He intends to earn a master's or further advanced degree in physics and computer science and then to be a nuclear physicist with a particular interest in research into anti-matter fusion.

The Kuckler-Killian Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $3,000 is endowed by June Rose Killian and her family in loving memory of her father and her mother:

Suzanne Rowell Westhaver, Connecticut, Connecticut: Suzanne is currently a student at the University of Connecticut at Waterbury, where she will be classified as a senior in the fall. She is earning a degree in the discipline of English. Her final degree she hopes will be a Ph.D. Suzanne intends to be an English professor. She also announced her intention to be a best-selling author and has organized a chapter of the National Federation of the Blind.

Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship in the amount of $3,000. The longest-standing scholarship of the National Federation of the Blind, and one that I have a particular fondness for since it was the scholarship I won a few years ago.

Erik C. Motsinger, Oklahoma, Oklahoma: Eric is currently a sophomore at Oklahoma State University, where he will continue in the fall toward a bachelor's degree in business administration. Eric intends to earn a law degree, and he wants to be a prosecuting attorney.

And the final $3,000 scholarship, named the E. U. Parker Scholarship in the amount of $3,000. This one is always particularly hard and a particular joy for me to give since I was a friend and admirer of E. U. Parker for lo these many years. This is endowed by E. U.'s wife Jean Parker and is given to someone who has shown unusual service to the National Federation of the Blind with a particular interest in fund-raising, which E.U. had such a magic touch at.

Debra Delorey, Massachusetts, Virginia: Debbie is a tenBroek fellow and a colleague of many of ours. Debbie won her first scholarship in 1996, and, if any of you have ever been to a Washington Seminar or to an occasional convention of the National Federation of the Blind, you will find Debbie walking around with roses in her hand selling them to you. She's currently a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she is earning a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling. She intends to complete her studies with a Ph.D. and become a rehabilitation counselor.

The next four scholarships are National Federation of the Blind Scholarships. Each of these four is in the amount of $5,000.

Kimberly Aguillard, Texas, Texas: Kim has just graduated from high school in Beaumont, Texas, and will be matriculating at Texas A & M University as a freshman in the fall, where she will begin her studies in psychology. Kim would like to earn a Ph.D. in psychology and then to serve as a psychiatric counselor. Kim serves as an officer of her state student division and at the age of eighteen founded a chapter of the National Federation of the Blind.

Peter Andrew Berg, Illinois, Illinois: Peter is currently a senior at North Central College, where he is working on a bachelor's degree in history. Peter will be starting studies as a first-year graduate student at DePaul University in the fall and intends to complete his studies with a master's degree in history. Peter wants to be a high school history or social studies teacher.

Seth Justyn Leblond, Maine, Maryland: Seth has just graduated from Deering High School in Portland, Maine, and will be attending Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, in the fall, where he will start his studies on a degree in communications with a concentration in radio and TV journalism. Seth intends to be a writer and a broadcaster. This eighteen-year-old gentleman serves as an officer of his state affiliate and also as a chapter president.

Michael Anthony Leiterman, Ohio, Ohio: Michael is currently a senior at the University of Cincinnati, where he is earning a bachelor's degree in biology with a minor in chemistry. He will be continuing at the University of Cincinnati in the fall and plans to complete his studies ultimately with a law degree so that he can be a genetic biologist and lawyer.

The next scholarship is named the Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $7,000. This is a scholarship endowed by Melva T. Owen's husband in her loving memory and has been given for a number of years by this man who is dedicated to his wife's memory and to honoring blind people, and he particularly prizes achievement by blind people.

Cheralyn Braithwaite, Utah, Utah: Cheralyn, as we all know, is currently not in school because she is teaching. She will be starting her studies as a graduate student in the fall at the University of Utah, where she intends to earn a master's degree in special education. She wants to be a special education school administrator. Cheralyn is an officer of her state affiliate and is also a chapter president.

National Federation of the Blind Scholarships, two scholarships, each of which is in the amount of $7,000.

Thomas Ladu Philip, Minnesota, Minnesota: Thomas is a student at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities. He is currently classified as a senior and will be continuing his studies in the fall, earning a degree in English literature and creative writing. Thomas will ultimately earn a Ph.D. in the same subject and intends to be a professor of English literature and also a creative writer. He is already a published poet and serves as the President of the Minnesota Association of Blind Students.

Nathanael Thomas Wales, California, California: Nathanael is a tenBroek fellow, having won his first scholarship in 1997. He is currently studying at the University of California at Davis, where he will be classified as a senior in the fall, completing a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering. He intends to earn a law degree and wants to work as a civil and environmental engineer and as a lawyer. Nathanael serves on the board of his state affiliate, is a chapter officer, and is also the President of the California Association of Blind Students.

The next scholarship is entitled the Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship. It is in the amount of $21,000. Now you all know, I am sure, that the person who wins this scholarship has also earned the right to speak briefly to the National Federation of the Blind Convention. While this person comes forward, I will read her name and a little about her; then we will hear from her.

Angela Renee Sasser, Louisiana, Texas:[loud cheers and applause] Angela is a tenBroek fellow, having earned her first scholarship--and apparently quite a number of friends and colleagues--in 1997. She is currently studying at the University of Texas at Austin, where she will be a senior in the fall. Her current degree program is entitled "Humanities Honors," and she is also earning an elementary education certificate. She intends to complete her studies with a master's degree in elementary education and to be an elementary art teacher. That's only one of many aspirations. She also intends to be an artist herself and to work in the field of museums and presentation to both blind and sighted persons. Angela, as you would expect, also serves as the President of the Texas Association of Blind Students. My friends, join me please in welcoming this year's Kenneth Jernigan Scholar, Angela Sasser. [applause]

Angela Sasser addresses the 2000 banquet.
Angela Sasser addresses the
2000 banquet.

Angela Sasser: Oh wow! This is such a great honor. It means a great deal to me to have this scholarship, but even more than that, it means a great deal to me because it is in honor of Dr. Jernigan. The spark that Dr. Jernigan began with Dr. tenBroek burns deep in my heart. (I am trying not to cry.) This Federation means so much to me, and everybody here is like my big family. John Keats said, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty." There's nothing more beautiful than the truth about blindness that I've found in the National Federation of the Blind. [applause]

Peggy Elliott: Before I give the microphone back to the Master of Ceremonies, I do want to ask to say something for just a minute to the Scholarship Class of the Year 2000. Scholarship winners, you are winners; each and every one of you is a winner. But I want to say also, so is the National Federation of the Blind.

You know during this week we've sat with you; we've eaten with you; some of us have tippled with some of you; we've gotten wet with you; and we've played cards with you. Through all of that we have offered the greatest gift to you we have, and that great gift is not money; it is the National Federation of the Blind. Dr. tenBroek, Dr. Jernigan, and now Dr. Maurer challenge each one of us to find our place in the world and to find our place in the National Federation of the Blind. We challenge you scholarship winners of 2000 to step forward and join our family. We challenge you to step forward and join the march toward freedom for blind people and challenge you to step forward and take those leadership positions that your studies and achievements obviously suit you to take.

We challenge you in other words to accept the gift, not of the money we have given you, but of the National Federation of the Blind; and most of all we challenge you to understand that the greatest thing the Federation has is its bond among blind people, the love we bear each other and the absolute determination we have to support each other and to bring every blind person to that land of freedom. Scholarship winners of 2000, we challenge you to become members of our family. Congratulations, Class of 2000.

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