Braille Monitor October 1986
July 10, 1986
Dear Dr. Jernigan:
Here is a transcription of the 1986 scholarship presentation at our banquet on July 3, 1986. The presentation ceremony and, indeed, the entire scholarship program are an important part of our annual convention and of our year round array of programs and services to assist blind people. This year over 400 men and women applied for Federation scholarships.
Of course, you know that I received a Federation scholarship myself just after earning a Bachelor's Degree and while on my way to Yale Law School. I thoroughly enjoy giving the scholarship awards each year to America 's finest blind students. Even more, I enjoy meeting and getting to know these students at convention. In addition to the scholarship grants earned by each winner, the Federation gives an added grant to each winner to cover the costs of expenses to attend the convention, and the twenty-four men and women spend a week with us. This gives us the chance to meet and evaluate the personal qualities of each before we make our final awards. We choose the 24 winners but do not specify who wins which award until the evening before the banquet. It also gives the convention an opportunity to meet and congratulate these outstanding people.
The winners themselves benefit from the convention scholarship in countless ways. Many come to convention needing desperately to learn how to get around as a blind person in unfamiliar surroundings. Many have not yet left their homes or have spent their lives between home and a limited area on a campus. We teach them what we can in a week about getting around anywhere. The principles of independent travel and the certainty that one can travel independently can be learned in this time and many learn them. Many of the students have never before met a blind person employed in the field they intend to enter. There are endless discussions about techniques which will aid in study and future employment and numberless suggestions, warnings, and advice about how to handle the questions and doubts which will inevitably be raised by professors or potential employers. Most of all, the winners receive a different perspective on blindness itself since they are immersed for a week in an active, purposeful, successful organization founded and administered by blind people. After such a week, the only possible conclusion a blind person can draw deep down in the soul is that blind people are competent, capable, and assertive--able to accomplish what they put their minds and wills to achieving.
I know the power of such a message. Every blind person does. Every blind person reaches a point in life where blindness must be confronted directly. Many students (particularly the high school students of whom we had so many this year) have spent their lives among friends who almost unconsciously take great pains to protect them from the true handicap of blindness--artificial limitations and barriers imposed on the blind by persons who do not believe in the capacity of blind persons. But every blind person eventually meets this prejudice and must come to recognize it, work around it, and seek to change it.
We do this together in the National Federation of the Blind. The twenty four scholarship winners have now been given this tremendous resource of knowledge and skill and commitment that is the Federation. I was once given the same gift. It is a pleasure and an honor to give it on to others.
During the scholarship presentation at the banquet, I read from text, read from notes, and extemporize. I have collected my text, my notes, and my recollections of the presentation ceremony one week ago. As best I can, I have provided you with a transcription of the words spoken then. No transcript can convey the excitement and gratitude and spirit of togetherness shared by the winners and the entire convention assembled at our banquet. One must attend ic appreciate it. These winners were lucky indeed to attend as honored guests.
Peggy Pinder, Chairman
N.F.B. Scholarship Committee
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
The National Federation of the Blind conducts its business in full knowledge that time is the fourth dimension. In 1940, when those seven state organizations came together to form this national movement, they acted in the faith that the entire blind community would one day be united and strong. They knew that dedication and hard work over time would bring their dreams into reality. We've known it ever since.
That is why we say that we never lose a war: We simply won't quit until we win. This is what the airlines have not yet understood. They don't know that determination over time grows and spreads. They don't understand that they will lose. Our conviction in final victory is our greatest strength.
The dimension of time is important in the lives of individuals just as it is in the life of an organization. Men and women who continue their study aftar high school are dreamers, too. They are gathering skills and laying groundwork for the rest of their lives. Their lives are as yet mostly potential.
The Federation believes in dreaming, in aspiring to do what others say we cannot, then buckling down and putting in the hard work that makes it all come true. And we believe in helping others to dream, aspire, and work. That's why we've established our scholarship program and funded it with nearly $100,000 of our treasure. We want to reward the dreamers who are workers. We are already part of their lives, for the work of the Federation since 1940 has changed forever what it means to be blind in this country and built the foundation on which all students of today build their lives. To you who are scholarship winners we say: "We've always been a part of your dreams and your successes, whether you knew it or not. Tonight, we honor your success and our own and look forward with you into the bright future we have created together."
We have twenty-four scholarship winners this year. It gives me great pleasure to present them to you, one by one, to receive their awards.
(As each winner's name was called, the winner came onto the platform, received a certificate, and received congratulations from our President, Dr. Jernigan.)
The Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $1,800 was awarded to Mark J. Baxter of Vermont. Mark was recently graduated from high school in Moretown, Vermont and will be starting at Dartmouth in the fall, where he will be studying computer science.
Nine National Federation of the Blind Merit Scholarships (in the amount of $1,800 each) were awarded to the following people:
Roy W. DePriest--Arkansas. Roy was recently graduated from the Arkansas School for the Blind and will be a freshman in the fall at the University of Arkansas, where he hopes to earn a Master's Degree in electrical engineering.
Laura Lynn Beach Eckery--Nebraska. Laurie is a second-year graduate student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where she is working towards a Master's Degree in social work. She intends to be a psychotherapist in the mental health or family services area.
Shirley Jean Hammond--Ohio. Shirley is working toward an Associate Degree from Stark Technical College, Canton, Ohio, in the field of occupational therapy assistant. She hopes eventually to become a full occupational therapist or work elsewhere in the field of rehabiliation.
Robin Lynn Briggs Hauck--Maryland. Robin is studying at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County where she is working toward a Bachelor's Degree in social work and hopes to earn a Master's Degree.
Douglas Gregory Lee--Illinois. Doug will be a sophomore in the fall at the University of Illinois in Champaign working toward his Bachelor's Degree in the fields of mathematics, computer science, and computer engineering.
Alfred Leslie Morgan, Jr.--Mississippi. Al is completing his BA degree at the University of Mississippi, Oxford, after which he intends to enter Mississippi State University and earn a Graduate Degree in the counseling field.
Patricia Jean Stift--Missouri. Pat will be senior next year at the University of Missouri at Columbia where she is earning her BS degree in physical therapy, after which she will pursue a Master's Degree.
Edward Lawrence Timanus--Virginia. Eddie will be a freshman in the fall at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where he intends to earn a Bachelor's Degree in economics and business administration and eventually a Master's in business administration.
Chris T. Tromborg--California. Chris is completing a Master's Degree at California State University, San Francisco, in animal sciences and plans to enter a doctoral program in his area of interest, the enhancement of the environments of captive animals.
The Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship in the amount of $2,500 was awarded to Linda van Duyne of New York and Massachusetts. Linda was recently graduated with a Bachelor's Degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and will be continuing her studies there in a graduate program. Her field is materials science and she hopes to teach at the university level.
Two Hermione Grant Calhoun Scholarships were given (in the amount of $2,500 each) to the following people:
Melody Layne Lindsey--Florida. Melody will be a freshman in the fall at Stetson University in Florida. She plans to earn a law degree.
Joan Marie Taeckens--Michigan. Joan is studying toward a Master's in business administration at the School of Business Administration at the University of Michigan in Flint.
There were seven National Federation of the Blind Merit Scholarships awarded in the amount of $2,500 each to:
Daniel Barrett--Illinois and Indiana. Dan will be a sophormore in the fall at the University of Notre Dame where he is working toward a Bachelor's Degree with double majors in chemisty and liberal studies. He intends to earn a degree in theoretical chemistry.
Stacie Leigh Cranney--Idaho and Utah. Stacie will be a freshman at Brigham Young University in Utah and began her studies there this summer. She is studying toward her Bachelor's Degree in communications and political science and intends to earn a law degree.
Brian J. Fitzmaurice--New York. Brian will be a freshman in the fall at Syracuse University, New York, where he intends to earn a degree in computer engineering at Syracuse's College of Engineering.
Frank J. Lee--Alabama. Frank is writing his dissertation in a doctoral program at Gammon Theological Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia, while pastoring a church in Huntsville, Alabama, full time.
Deepak Tonse Pai--New Mexico and California. Deepak will be a sophormore at the University of California at Berkley in the fall where he is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in rhetoric and plans to earn a law degree.
Cuong P. To--California. Cuong will be a senior at San Diego State and plans to go on to earn a Master's in business administration in the field of international business.
Maria Jo Willamon--Iowa. Maria is a junior at William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa, where she is studying toward a Bachelor's Degree in accounting and intends to become a CPA.
Three National Federation of the Blind Merit Scholarships in the amount of $4,000 each were presented to the following students:
Earl W. Anderson--North Dakota. Earl is a second-year law student at the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks.
Scott Charles LaBarre--Minnesota. Scott will be an entering freshman at St. John's University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, in the fall where he will study toward a Bachelor's Degree in international business and relations.
Eileen Rivera--Pennsylvania. Eileen, who is from San Juan, Puerto Rico, earned a Bachelor's at Harvard and is now in her second year at the Wharton School of Finance where she is studying toward a Master's in business administration in health care administration.
The winner of the final scholarship has earned the right to speak to the convention. I will announce the scholarship and tell you about the winner who will then speak to you.
The Ezra Davis Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $10,000, presented by the American Brotherhood for the Blind, is awarded to Robert David Greenberg--New York and Connecticut. Robert earned his Bachelor of Arts' Degree at Sarah Lawrence College. He will be starting his third year in a doctoral program in the Department of Slavic Languages and literatures at Yale University. His special interest is Slavic linquistics.
This scholarship will allow Robert to complete his doctoral research by studying original manuscripts in the monasteries of eastern Europe. Robert has also studied piano for sixteen years and the entire convention has received this week the wonderful gift of his playing.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Ezra Davis Scholarship winner, Robert Greenberg. (Mr. Greenberg came to the microphone and expressed his appreciation for the scholarship. He also talked about his attitudes toward blindness and the Federation. He said in part:
"Last July when many of you were gathered in Louisville, Kentucky, for the 1985 National Federation of the Blind convention I was still in a struggle with my blindness. I could not come to terms with many things. I did not use my cane except at night and would keep it folded up in my backpack. A good friend at the time (her name is Orna, and some of you know who she is now) told me one day: 'Why on earth don't you use your cane! You always get in so much trouble without it.'
"Since that very day I have started to use my cane and I have become more independent and more aware of what it means to be blind. In the last few days here at the convention I have, I think, fully come to terms with my blindness. I have been riding on a kind of wave of love, optimism, and good feelings all around from all of you. You feel it everywhere--in every corner of the hotel and every corner of the banquet room. I am gratefully appreciative of that. It is really at this point that I can now say that I, too, also claim the National Federation of the Blind to be my organization. One last remark that I wanted to make was that on Saturday when we all assembled (we twenty-four scholarship winners) Dr. Jernigan said something to us. He said, 'You all should be proud, for all of you are winners.' "Standing here before you today, I want to say that I have found that each and every one of you Federationists is also a winner."
At the conclusion of Mr. Greenberg's remarks, Peggy Pinder again spoke. She said:
"As Federationists, we have always kept in mind our perspective on time. You have earned honor and received it. But we have tried our hardest to give you something more than money, something more than honor. We have worked our hardest to give you our dreams, our conviction that, together, we can make tomorrow an even better place. We have given you the greatest gift in our keeping: our own organization.
"Blind people always needed the Federation. Blind people always dreamed of it. In time, blind people brought the Federation into being. This week, we have given it all to you.
"Nurture it as we have nurtured it. Love it as we have loved it. Over time and working together, with your help, we can make it all come true for blind people.
"Congratulations, 1986 Scholarship winners."