National Federation of the Blind Recognizes Thirty Outstanding Blind Students

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National Federation of the Blind Recognizes Thirty Outstanding Blind Students

Emily Eagle of Texas Awarded Top $12,000 Scholarship

Baltimore, Maryland (July 18, 2019): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people, today announced the winners of its 2019 scholarships, which were awarded at the organization’s national convention in Las Vegas on July 12. The winner of the organization’s top prize of $12,000, donated by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, is Emily Eagle, an aspiring lawyer from Texas. Attending her first NFB convention, Ms. Eagle told attendees in her brief remarks at the convention banquet that she hoped to express her gratitude by contributing to the organization throughout the rest of her life.

In addition to their scholarship, each student received a plaque and a $1,000 cash award from inventor and futurist Dr. Ray Kurzweil, an Acer Chromebook laptop and a $1,000 cash award from Google, a JAWS or Zoomtext license from Vispero, a $1,500 voucher towards the purchase of a Talking LabQuest from Independence Science, and nine months of service from Aira, for a total award for each winner with a minimum value exceeding $5,000. Here is an alphabetical listing of the other twenty-nine 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:

  • Amy Albin, New Jersey: Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • Makayla Bouchea, Georgia: Business Human Resources ($3,000 E.U. and Gene Parker Scholarship)
  • Tracy Boyd, Oregon: Clinical Mental Health Counselor ($8,000 Oracle Scholarship for Excellence in a STEM Field)
  • Kaden Calahan, New Mexico: High School Teacher
  • Rashid Dème, Michigan: Human Rights/International Lawyer ($5,000 Mimi and Marvin Sandler Scholarship)
  • Eric Duffy, Ohio: Vocational Rehabilitation Administrator ($3,000 Charles and Betty Allen Scholarship)
  • Skye Dunfield, Nevada: Victim Advocate ($10,000 Charles and Melba T. Owen Memorial Scholarship)
  • Amy Hatten, Minnesota: Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Maureen Hayden, Pennsylvania: Marine Biologist ($3,000 Charles and Melba T. Owen Scholarship)
  • Gene Kim, California: Mechanical Engineering and Symbolic Systems ($8,000 Oracle Scholarship for Excellence in Computer Science)
  • Jenelle Landgraf, Washington: Therapist
  • Nina Marranca, New York: Clinical Psychologist
  • Ana Martinez Larumbe, Louisiana: Social Worker ($3,000 Edith R. And Alvin J Domroe Foundation Scholarship)
  • Lucas Mebane, North Carolina: Biomedical Engineer
  • Gerald Meredith, Virginia: Professor of Criminal Justice
  • Pablo Morales, North Carolina: Business and Management
  • Kaylee Nielson, Arizona: Lawyer ($3,000 Dr. Adrienne Asch Memorial Scholarship)
  • Erin Olsen, Idaho: Instructional Design for Vulnerable Populations ($5,000 Pearson Scholarship)
  • Rachel Ooi, Tennessee: Law
  • Amelia Palmer, Idaho: Electrical Engineering and Mathematics
  • Aracely Rosillo, Georgia: Vision Rehabilitation Therapist
  • Heather Schey, Rhode Island: Human Services
  • Vanessa Sheehan, Arizona: Manuscript Editor ($3,000 Jeannette C. Eyerly Scholarship)
  • Brandon Shin, California: Law and PhD in English
  • Derique Simon, South Carolina: Victims’ Rights and Disability Lawyer
  • Georgie Sydnor, Massachusetts: Teacher of Blind Students and Braille Transcriber
  • Alicia Ucciferri, Texas: Civil/Human Rights Law ($5,000 JAWS for Windows scholarship)
  • Madelyn Walker, Texas: Pharmaceutical Oncologist ($5,000 NFB STEM Scholarship)
  • Ryan Wullschleger, California: Law

“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 criminal justice to engineering, 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.”

Several hundred students competed for the scholarships. A committee of blind people representing a diverse cross section of the NFB membership, including several former scholarship winners, narrowed the field to thirty finalists. Each finalist was then given roundtrip transportation, hotel accommodations, and assistance to attend the National Federation of the Blind National Convention in Las Vegas, where the committee spent several days getting to know each student. Only after that process was complete did the committee decide which scholarship to award each finalist. Over 3,200 blind people, their families and friends, and other supporters attended the convention.

Special thanks go to the Jesse and Hertha Adams Charitable Trust for its support of the National Federation of the Blind scholarship program.

For more information about the National Federation of the Blind scholarship program, please visit

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