Celebrate Outstanding Blind Students

Release Date

Celebrate Outstanding Blind Students

Precious Perez of Massachusetts Awarded Top $12,000 Scholarship

Baltimore, Maryland (February 12, 2021): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the premier membership and advocacy organization of blind Americans, today announced the winners of its 2020 named scholarships, which were awarded at the kickoff meeting of the organization’s Washington Seminar on February 8. The winner of the organization’s top prize of $12,000, donated by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults and named in memory of Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, is Precious Perez, an aspiring music educator from Massachusetts.

Here is an alphabetical listing of the other winners, with their home state and career goal or field of study. Unless otherwise indicated, each student received a $3,000 National Federation of the Blind Scholarship:

  • Deiascha-Britte Bancayanvega, California: Healthcare Inclusion (Edith R. and Alvin Domroe Foundation Scholarship, $3,000)
  • Robert (Rob) Blachowicz, Arkansas: Counseling
  • Christopher (Chris) Bove, Rhode Island: Public Service
  • Brianna (Bri) Broadwater, Maryland: Psychologist or Education
  • Sean Carlson, Oregon: Vocational Rehabilitation Instructor
  • Natalie Charbonneau, Oregon: Animal Genetics and Conservation Research (Oracle Scholarship for Excellence in a STEM Field, $8,000)
  • Moreblessings Chikavanga, Texas: Civil Rights/Disability Law (Charles and Betty Allen Scholarship, $3,000)
  • Kevin Darcy, Colorado: Anthropology Professor (Pearson Scholarship, $5,000)
  • Matthew Duffell-Hoffman, South Carolina: Electrical Engineer
  • Paxton Franke, North Dakota: Forensic Pathology (National Federation of the Blind Leadership Scholarship, $5,000)
  • Lauren (Elaine) Hardin, Georgia: Higher Education Student Affairs Administrator
  • Kaitlyn (Kat) Hippe, Wisconsin: Linguistics and Education (Charles and Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship, $3,000)  
  • Emily Kiehl, Ohio: Information Technology
  • Josh Loebner, Tennessee: Inclusive Technology
  • Sara Luna, Illinois: Museum Accessibility (E.U. and Gene Parker Scholarship, $3,000)
  • Victor Marques, Michigan: Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and Access Technology Specialist (JAWS for Windows Scholarship, $5,000)
  • Griffin Miller, Pennsylvania: Actuary
  • Jillian Milton, New Jersey: Product Development
  • Marissa Nissley, New Jersey: Attorney
  • Sherry Pablo, California: Public Health, Health Policy and Management (special scholarship for first responders and others affected by COVID-19, $3,000)
  • Teresita Rios, California: Attorney
  • Dannielle Schutz, Nebraska: Medical Scientist
  • Nicolas (Nick) Spohn, Pennsylvania: Mechanical Engineer (National Federation of the Blind STEM Scholarship, $3,000)
  • Logan Stenzel, Minnesota: Finance and Technology Entrepreneur (Oracle Scholarship for Excellence in Computer Science, $8,000)
  • Marie Villaneda, Indiana: Orientation and Mobility Instructor (Mimi and Marvin Sandler Scholarship, $5,000)
  • Monica Wegner, Minnesota: Corporate Attorney (Charles and Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship, $10,000)
  • Alek Wolfe, Vermont: Broadcasting
  • Brayan Zamarripa, Oklahoma: Media Production (Dr. Adrienne Asch Memorial Scholarship, $3,000)

“The scholarship program is one of our most important initiatives,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We are proud to honor these blind scholars, who are studying everything from media production to genetics and, in so doing, raising the expectations of what blind people can achieve. Their accomplishments are proof of our conviction that we, the blind of this nation, can live the lives we want; blindness does not hold us back.”

Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
410-659-9314, extension 2330
410-262-1281 (cell)