Release Date: 
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Announces 2017 Scholarship Program Finalists

Baltimore, Maryland (May 11, 2017): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people, today announced the finalists for its 2017 Scholarship Program, which awards thirty scholarships each year to recognize achievement by blind scholars. The students are listed below in alphabetical order with their home states and vocational goals.

  • Lindsay Ball, ME: Adaptive physical education teacher
  • Cricket Bidleman, CA: Anthropology professor
  • Katherine Brafford, CA: Work at the intersection of science and religion
  • Aneri Brahmbhatt, IL: Record label manager
  • Shannon Cantan, HI: Business administration
  • Melissa Carney, CT: Clinical psychologist
  • Trinh Ha, AR: Dietitian
  • Afton Harper, MO: Journalism
  • Qusay Hussein, TX: Psychologist
  • Catherine Jacobson, MN: Healthcare policy analyst
  • Cassandra Mendez, OH: Assistive technology developer
  • Tabea Meyer, CO: Advocate for marginalized groups
  • Ibeth Miranda, TX: University professor
  • Regina D. Mitchell, NV: Psychologist
  • Jackie Mushington-Anderson, GA: Braille instructor
  • Maureen Nietfeld, CO: Dietitian/Nutritionist
  • Efose Oriaifo, VA: Biotechnology
  • Chelsea Peahl, UT: Law/Advocacy
  • Gloria Rodriguez, WA: Disaster mitigation and emergency preparedness
  • Carla L. Scroggins, CA: International politics
  • Luke Schwink, KS: Athletic marketing/Player development
  • Alyssa Shock, NJ: Child psychologist
  • Heather Simmons, CA: Literature professor
  • Wayne Smith III, MD: Computer engineering/Data security
  • Andrew Sydlik, PA: English teacher or disability advocate
  • Sophie Trist, LA: Novelist
  • Rachel Wellington, GA: STEM career
  • James N. Yesel, ND: Entrepreneur
  • Zeynep S. Yilmaz, AZ: Rehabilitation counselor education
  • Ayoub Zurikat, TX: Mental health care provider

“The scholarship program is one of our most important initiatives,” said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We are proud to honor these blind scholars, who are studying everything from biotechnology to anthropology, and to welcome each of them to our upcoming national convention and to the family of the National Federation of the Blind. The accomplishments of these outstanding students are proof of our conviction that we, the blind of this nation, can live the lives we want; blindness does not hold us back.”

Each finalist will attend the NFB’s seventy-seventh annual national convention, beginning July 10, in Orlando, Florida, where the Scholarship Committee will spend several days getting to know each student and then decide which scholarship (ranging in value from $3,000 to $12,000) to award each of them. The scholarship winners will then be announced at the banquet of the NFB National Convention on Saturday, July 15.

For more information on the National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Program, visit