COLIN WONG: Thank you so much for this tremendous honor. I am very blessed to be able to represent the Scholarship Class of 2022. Each of these individuals also deserve this prestigious award, and I am grateful to be here and accept this award today.
I want to start off by thanking President Mark Riccobono, the National Board of Directors, the sponsors that made this possible, Kate Mendez and the Scholarship Committee and all the support that they have provided in making this scholarship a reality. There are a couple individuals I want to make sure to thank because, without their support and their ability to listen to all of my frustrations in this journey we call life, this Ph.D. definitely would not be possible. I want to start off by thanking Ashley Moon, Shawn Callaway, Marcie Carpenter, Marco Carranza, and Dr. Edward Bell. I want to thank my beautiful wife, Destiny Wong. [applause] Next week we will have been together for nine years. [applause] In this journey, as I'm sure we all have done, I have stumbled and made mistakes, and without her support and her love and dedication, I would have definitely fallen, but she has picked me back up every single time. [cheers and applause]
While I have not met Dr. Kenneth Jernigan personally, his influence on me cannot be understated. It is an honor and I am humbled to accept an award in his name. His influence in my life has not only influenced my professional career but also my personal career. I started going to Louisiana Tech University, the Louisiana Center for the Blind, and I serve on the National Blindness Professional Certification Board, each of whom involve the Structured Discovery methodology that Dr. Jernigan created. Without his influence in the area of adult rehabilitation and blindness, I can honestly say I would not have a career or a passion in order to shape the next generation of blind individuals.
I also want to note the impact that the National Federation of the Blind has on me. Dr. Kenneth Jernigan said that there has to be a day after civil rights, and that's the most powerful gift that the Federation has given me, an opportunity for dreaming and looking towards the future. It's so easy to focus on the present and the challenges that we have to overcome, but it's a lot easier when we know what the future has to hold, and I cannot thank the Federation enough for the expectations that they have instilled in me and the opportunities that they have provided. The Federation is a place of support. It's a place of love, hope, and determination. The Federation has given me so much more than I have been able to give to it. Today it has given me an educational opportunity. Collectively it has given all of us standing on this stage a future. For that I am eternally grateful. Thank you so much, and let's go build the National Federation of the Blind! [cheers and applause]