Advice on Applying for the Scholarship Program

Portraits of Kinshuk Tella, Manahil Jafri, and Logan Stenzel.

Advice on Applying for the Scholarship Program

By Kinshuk tella, Manahil Jafri, and Logan Stenzel

Below are three stories with tips about the National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Program from past finalists.

Kinshuk Tella

Hi. My name is Kinshuk Tella, and I'm a recipient of a 2021 National Federation of the Blind Scholarship. I am a senior at Miami University, where I'm studying environmental science and geology. I applied three times before winning a scholarship. After each application period, I made sure to become a star candidate. Even though I wasn't in the program directly, I still got involved with the National Federation of the Blind. I was mentored by leaders in our organization and made connections to help me learn what it takes to be a successful blind student. I also learned to mentor others.

Each year, I kept up my grades and also learned how to write better and to convey my story most accurately. It took three times, but I assure you that it's worth every single time. This program is something that gives you a lot more than just a monetary award, equally giving you a lot in terms of mentorship, opportunities, networking.

I've heard of people who got an internship offers and jobs from their scholarship mentors, so I encourage all of you to apply if you're an eligible blind student.

Manahil Jafri

I'm Manahil Jafri. I'm a junior majoring in policy analysis and management at Cornell University. I won the National Federation of the Blind Scholarship in 2020. That was my first introduction to the National Federation of the Blind. Before that, I had no idea what that “NFB” was. I was the only blind person I ever knew, and I kind of was like, I'm that blind girl, if you know what I mean.

I grew up thinking that, you know, I had all the skills I needed. I had everything that I needed to succeed. I was going to be okay. Then, I was applying for college and I realized that I needed money. I applied for an NFB scholarship, thinking “That can be a great way to cash in, grab and go.”

I went to the convention, which was virtual that year. That changed my entire life. I realized there were people that were doing things so much better than me, so much more efficiently. I barely knew how to use JAWS. I barely knew how to run a zoom meeting myself. I barely knew how people could be this successful in such a positive way.

I was still struggling to accept my blindness. NFB has really taught me how to do that. If it wasn't for me applying for that scholarship, stumbling on the link somehow, submitting my application like 10 minutes before the deadline, I think that, I would never be here. I wouldn't be as confident and as happy and sure of myself that I am now.

I encourage all of you to apply to the scholarship. Submit your application, write your essays, and convey your story the best you can because they're really trying to get to know who you are. The more they know about you, more that that can happen. So please, please, please submit your application.

Logan Stenzel

My name is Logan Stenzel. I am a junior at the University of Minnesota, where I'm a double major in computer science and finance. The first piece of advice I want to share on this scholarship program is that you shouldn’t be afraid to apply. There's no harm in applying.

In fact, the application process was an interesting opportunity to sit down and critically assess my thoughts around blindness and how it impacts my life. It was a really cool opportunity to think through how I wanted to present myself and my personal blindness philosophy.

I will say that the scholarship money itself was very helpful for funding my education. But the biggest thing that I never anticipated when I applied for a scholarship was how heavily involved I could become in the federation. Since winning a scholarship three and a half years ago, I served as the first vice president of the National Association of Blind Students and was the president of my state student division. And I got to do so many really cool things with our state affiliate and national organization.

I also got one of my dream internships through one of my scholarship mentors. I was fortunate enough to have a mentor in the computer science field who had a position at Apple, and when her team was looking for an intern, she sent me the application and gave me a referral. I got the opportunity to spend the summer working on accessibility for Apple. That was a super cool experience that I never would have gotten without the connections I made through the National Federation of the Blind National Scholarship program.

So please do apply. We would love to see as many blind students apply as possible, and hopefully you stick around and join the National Association of Blind Students. We'd love to answer any questions you have about being a blind student or the scholarship program.

Submit your NFB Scholarship Application by March 31, 2024.