by April Scurlock
From the Editor: April Scurlock lives in Mount Ida, Arkansas, and she teaches fifth and sixth grade mathematics at the Mount Ida Middle School, where she has worked for eleven years. She is the president of the Arkansas at-large chapter and the second vice president of the affiliate. She won a national scholarship in 2012 and works hard to support the organization that granted it to her. Her state president says she is indispensable, and those who know her wish she could grace every affiliate. Here is what she has to say about winning an NFB scholarship:
As a teacher I get to take my class on a field trip at the end of the school year. My class always goes to the local go-cart track, where we play putt-putt golf, ride bumper boats, and drive go-carts. Many of the parents in our community are aware of my blindness, so it is funny to watch their reaction when they see me get in a go-cart to race against my students. Even the students are shocked to see me in a go-cart. The funniest part of the entire experience is that I usually end up winning the race. I am not sure if I win because they feel sorry for me or because I am so competitive.
I do not believe I would have had the courage to continue teaching and racing go-carts if it were not for the National Federation of the Blind. I came to know the NFB back in 2012 when my DSB (Division of Services for the Blind) rehabilitation counselor gave me an NFB scholarship form and told me I should apply. After researching this scholarship, I knew there was no way I could win it—the previous winners were so impressive, and this was my first time applying. For goodness sake, I had never even heard of the NFB until that moment. So, with hesitation, I set out on the journey to fill out the application and compete in a process I was certain would eliminate me. Once I had everything completed and mailed in, I forgot all about it…again I knew I had no chance of winning.
One night the phone rang while I was cooking dinner. I was hesitant to answer because the caller ID was some crazy number that I didn’t recognize. When I answered, I was thinking, should I pretend to be someone else? When the gentleman on the other end of the line asked to speak to me, reluctantly I replied that it was I.
He said, “My name is John Halverson, and I am a member of the National Federation of the Blind scholarship committee. I just have a few questions to ask you.” So he asked me some questions, and after my replies he informed me that I was indeed a 2012 winner of a NFB scholarship. I was so stunned that I was screaming and accusing him of lying, and he kept reassuring me that I really was a winner. My husband and boys ran into the kitchen, thinking I had burned myself. Finally, Mr. John congratulated me on my winning and said he would see me in July in Dallas.
For anyone who does not believe that first-time applicants can win this scholarship, I am here to show you that what you believe is wrong. Do not doubt yourself; you can do it. You have to believe in what you are doing and know you are bettering yourself as a blind person.
The National Federation of the Blind is one of the most outstanding organizations for blind people anywhere. I am thankful to my DSB counselor for introducing me to the NFB. I have many close friends that I made while being in Dallas for a week at the national convention. It is amazing what the NFB can do for you. It helped me believe even more in myself as a blind person. Instead of hoping that I can do great things in my life, I know I can do great things in my life.
Thank you, NFB, for changing my life for the better. Happy seventy-fifth anniversary!