Future Reflections Special Issue1989, Vol. 8 No. 4

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[PICTURE] Scholarship winner Johnnie Burns (far left) is shown here with President Marc Maurerand Scholarship Chairperson Peggy Pinder as she prepares to accept the top award of $10,000 at the 1989 NFB Banquet.

The following article is reprinted from the October, 1989, Braille Monitor.

At the banquet of the National Federation of the Blind convention in Denver, Colorado, on July 8, 1989, twenty-six blind men and women received scholarships totaling $69,200. The scholarship awards ranged in value from $1,800 to $ 10,000, but when one includes the value of the expense-paid trip to the convention, the monetary commitment that the NFB has made to these post-secondary students exceeds $100,000 in 1989.

Considering the financial demands always facing the Federation and the desperate requests for our help that appear in the mail to the National Office every day, it is reasonable to ask whether the size of this investment is justifiable each year. The answer from all those who have observed the fruits of the scholarship program over the last several years and who met the 1989 winners is a resounding yes. Each year our past winners take an increasingly active role in the work of the organization. Their commitment to our cause of making life better for the blind and their accomplishments provide a significant part of the energy, direction, and increasing momentum of our movement as it begins its sixth decade of life.

Taken together, this year's scholarship class is perhaps the most impressive group of winners we have yet assembled. They come from or study in twenty-one states, Puerto Rico, and the People's Republic of China. On Wednesday morning at the Board of Directors meeting each winner was given an opportunity to speak to the convention. Here is what they said about themselves and their plans:

Michelle Abadia from Puerto Rico: "I'm attending Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. I'll be a sophomore this year. I'm majoring in French with pre-law counseling, and I intend to become a lawyer." David Arocho from New York: "I will begin classes at the Albany Law School, and I hope to become a very good lawyer."

Johnnie Burns from Louisiana: "I am attending Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. I intend to pursue a doctorate in special education, and I want to give back to the Federation what they have given to me--freedom."

Cheryl Cameron from Illinois: "I did my undergraduate degree at Princeton University and am pursuing a graduate degree at Tufts University in a program concentrating in Latin American History and Development Economics. Right now I'm doing a summer job in Washington, D.C., and I hope upon completion of my program in the next year to return to D.C. and pursue a full-time job in either the U.S. Agency for International Development or hopefully by then the NFB might have persuaded the State Department that they should accept blind people as Foreign Service Officers."

Denise Clifton, Oregon: "I am attending the University of Oregon. I will be a junior this fall. I am studying journalism, and I plan to write for magazines and newspapers. Currently, I work for the school newspaper, and I'm doing an internship for Oregon Business Magazine."

Christopher Craig, Missouri: "I am pursuing a specialist degree at the School of Administration with plans to complete a Ph.D. at Missouri University in Special Education and Administration."

John de Benedetti, California: "I graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Human Biology, and I've been working in the Biotechnology field. I'm going to Northwestern University to the Kellogg School of Management to receive an M.B.A. degree, and I intend to return to the Biotechnology field. I plan also to be a leader in the blind community as well as the community in general."

Ronald Dixon, Illinois: "I'm a fourth year sociology student at the University of Chicago. My plans are to go into law."

Tricia Ferrell, Kansas: "I'm planning on attending Baker University in Baldwin, Kansas. I'm planning on pursuing a degree in Engineering, specializing in Chemical Engineering."

Rudy Hirota, California: "I'm currently attending the University of California, Bolt Hall School of Law. I will be a third year student, and for at least one year after I graduate, I intend to clerk for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena. If things go well, maybe I'll be able to clerk for the Supreme Court."

Konnie Hoffman, South Dakota: "I'm attending Dickinson State University in North Dakota, and I'm majoring in Elementary Education. I've been an active member of the NFB for a long time, and I serve as Secretary of the South Dakota affiliate. I know that the NFB can help me become a success in my life, and I'm going to try to help the next generation to do the same."

Christopher Hsee, People's Republic of China and Hawaii: "I just received my Bachelor's Degree from the University of Hawaii, and I will be a first year graduate student at Yale University majoring in Psychology. Here I would like to thank all of you, especially four people who have made it possible for me to come here, speak to you, and win this scholarship. Those four people are Dr. Floyd Matson, Dr. Jernigan, Peggy Pinder, and Fred Schroeder. This year I have won four national scholarships or fellowships, but this one is the one I am most proud of."

Gerald Jeandron, Louisiana: "I am currently attending Louisiana State University, pursuing a B.S. in Psychology. After graduating, I plan to go to law school. I serve as President of the Baton Rouge Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind and am also First Vice President of the Student Division in Louisiana."

Barbara Jonsson, New York: "I'm at Columbia University in New York City, and I'm studying Health Administration for a doctoral degree. I've been working for several years in the field of nutrition. I'm a registered dietitian. When I finish my doctorate at Columbia, I've been admitted to a clinical nursing program, which will train me as an RN and nurse practitioner. In the future, I'd like to run a maternal and child health care program."

Sandeep Kishan, Maryland: "I am going to be attending my freshman year at Johns Hopkins University, seeking a Bachelor of Science and Engineering degree with a double major in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics."

Marsha Levy, Pennsylvania: "I'm a student at Bryn Mawr College, Graduate School in Social Work and Social Research. I'm in the clinical social work track and hope to maintain a private clinical practice as well as teach on the University level."

Craig Mallinckrodt, Colorado: "I am pursuing a masters and Ph.D. degree at Colorado State University in a branch of animal sciences dealing primarily with genetics. I hope to contribute to that field as both a teacher and a researcher."

Brian McCall, Pennsylvania: "I'm entering my sophomore year at Yale, and I plan my major course of study to be political science and history. This summer I'm interning for Congressman Kurt Weldon. While at Yale, I live in Davenport College, which is the same residential college that George Bush was affiliated with when he was at Yale, and it's not the only house I plan to share with George Bush."

Valorie McMillan, Arizona: "I'm currently pursuing a career in psychology, specializing in developmental psychology, and I plan to work with abused children. There are a lot of people I would like to thank, but most importantly the Student Division for last night. All the time that I was in school there was something inside of me that wasn't quite right, and I couldn't figure out what it was. Well, now I know. I'm going to learn Braille until the ends of the earth."

Valerie Negri, Illinois: "I am going to be a sophomore at St. Xavier's College, pursuing a major in elementary education and a minor in English. For my goal in life, I would like to be the best teacher that I can be because I think it's a great responsibility to teach our nation's young people, and I always hope to be active in the NFB so that I can give back to these people out here what they've given to me."

Tami Rhymes, Illilnois: "I will be attending Wichita University this fall, pursuing my graduate degree in opera performance. I'm currently seeking a career not only on the operatic stage, but the recital stage. I am also preparing myself for extensive research in the field of vocal science and its applications to the art of vocal pedagogy."

Michael Seay, Tennessee: "I'm a senior at LeMoyne Owen College, a small school in Memphis, Tennessee, where I am President-Elect of the Student Government Association as well as a major in political science with a concentration in pre-law. I'm currently doing my internship with the public defender's office of Shelby County, the oldest in the United States. It is my hope and my ambition to become one of the best attorneys this country has ever known."

Cynthia Simon, New Jersey: "I'm an entering sophomore in the Rutgers College General Honors Program, seeking a bachelor's degree in political science and an associate's degree from the Eagleton Institute of Political Study. I hope to pursue a career in public administration and eventually to be elected to the United States Congress."

Mary Ward, Texas: "I'm pursuing a degree in linguistics and the teaching of English as a second language. I'm a returned Peace Corps volunteer, having served in Ecuador for two and a half years. I will be able to teach English as a second language, but I intend to pursue a doctoral degree in linguistics and study exotic languages and conduct that type of research. I'd like to thank the members of the National Federation of the Blind for showing me that I'll be able to do what I really like to do instead of what I think a blind person ought to be able to do."

William Warlick, Florida: "I'm on my way to the University of Pennsylvania to start work on a Ph.D. in economics with a specialty in international trade and monetary theory. After I've finished, I'd like to pursue a career in University teaching and research."

Matthew Weed, Colorado: "I will be at Yale College this fall. I will hopefully be receiving my baccalaureate degree in politics and economics in four years. I will then continue on to earn a Ph.D. in political economy."

The Scholarship Committee deliberated long and agonizingly on Friday afternoon, July 7, and during the banquet Saturday evening the following awards were made:

$1,800 NFB Merit Scholarships: Michelle Abadia, Ronald Dixon, Barbara Jonsson, Craig Mallinckrodt, Michael Seay, Cynthia Simon, Mary Ward, Matthew Weed.
$1,800 Hermione Grant Calhoun Scholarship: Denise Clifton.
$2,000 Francis Urbanek Memorial Scholarship: Tricia Ferrell.
$2,000 Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship: Konnie Hoffman.
$2,000 Ellen Setterfield Memorial Scholarship: Marsha Levy.
$2,500 NFB Merit Scholarships: Cheryl Cameron, Christopher Craig, Valerie Negri, Tami Rhymes, William Warlick.
$2,500 Howard Brown Rickard Scholarships: David Arocho, Rudy Hirota, Gerald Jeandron, Sandeep Kishan.
$2,500 Frank Walton Horn Memorial Scholarship: Valorie McMillan.
$4,000 NFB Merit Scholarships: John de Benedetti, Christopher Hsee, Brian Me Call.
$10,000 Ezra Davis Memorial Scholarship: Johnnie Burns.

At the close of the presentation of these awards, Peggy Pinder, Chairman of the Scholarship Committee, addressed a few concluding remarks to the class of 1989. She spoke for us all when she summed up for the winners the true significance of what they have been given. Here is what she said:

"Now that we have bestowed the 1989 scholarships, I want to say just one final word to this year's winners. We have given to you of our treasure, of our hard-earned income; but we have also given to you something else. We consider our scholarships to you only secondary to this. We have given you another and greater gift as through the week we have spent time with you, attended meetings with you, dined with you, played poker with you, talked with you, laughed with you, danced with you, debated and discussed with you. Through our common experiences we have showed to you that which is most important of all to us, the most precious thing we have, and the thing we now offer to you -- our organization, the National Federation of the Blind.

"We blind people first felt the need ourselves to establish an organization because we did not have a common philosophy, a structure through which to implement that philosophy, or the policies that brought it into life. We have made that philosophy, that organization, and those policies, and we now offer them to you. But we ask you to recognize with us that a philosophy, a structure, and policies in common do not make the National Federation of the Blind. They are merely the building above the ground. Underneath it is our feeling for one another. We do love one another. We do hurt when one of us is hurt. We do comfort one another when hurt occurs. We do fight for one another when one of us is wronged. We do defend one another. We rejoice with one another when achievements occur because they are the achievements of each of us, not in some verbal sense, but really truly ours because we do love one another and feel that strength of attachment for one another on which our philosophy, our structure, and our policies are built. We offer all of these to you, but particularly the love. You have shown great achievement and shown that you can give as well. We give our movement to you and ask you to love it as we have, ask you to nurture it as we have, ask you to make it grow as we have. We are proud of it just as we are proud of you.

"Scholarship winners, congratulations. Let's work together to make all our futures come true."


In 1990 twenty-six outstanding students will receive scholarships from the Federation totaling $71,000 in cash plus payment of their expenses to attend the National Federation of the Blind convention in Dallas during early July. Twelve blind scholars will recieve awards of $2,000; ten will receive awards of $2,500; three will receive awards of $4,000; and one (the student judged to be the most outstanding blind scholar in the nation) will receive a $10,000 scholarship award. Scholarships must be received by March 31, 1990. To receive scholarship forms or to obtain further information, contact: Peggy Pinder, Chairman, National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Committee, 814 - 4th Avenue, Suite 200, Grinnell, Iowa 50112; phone (515) 236-3366. Forms can also be had by writing to: Scholarships, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.

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