Chicago Lighthouse Provides Scholarship Awards to 39 Outstanding Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

The Chicago Lighthouse - Jul 28th, 2015

Dominic Calabrese
(312) 997-3662

CHICAGO – Thirty-nine exemplary students who are blind or visually impaired are a step closer to realizing their dream of a college or graduate degree thanks to scholarship awards from The Chicago Lighthouse.

The awards were presented on Saturday, July 25 in a festive ceremony at The Lighthouse that was attended by the recipients, their families, friends and donors to the program.

“It is impossible to attend this event and not come away, inspired and awed by the compelling stories and “can do attitudes” of all our recipients,” said Dr. Joel Kaplan, a Lighthouse Board member who co-chairs the Scholarship Committee. Dr. Kaplan noted that since the program began in 2004, The Lighthouse has passed out nearly 400 awards for a total amount of more than $800,000. In the process, it has become the second largest provider of scholarship awards to students with visual impairments in the country.

He saluted his colleagues on the Board, including Chairperson Dick Schnadig, for their ardent support of the program, and Maureen Reid of The Lighthouse’s Employment Services department, who oversaw the selection of the scholarship recipients.

Dr. Kaplan also expressed special thanks to Marv Lader, his committee co-chair and fellow Lighthouse Board member who along with his wife, Carol, came forward with a challenge grant to bring in additional funding for the scholarship program.

“Several students told us how inspired they were by our work on the committee, Mr. Lader noted. “I told them that we are the ones who are impressed and inspired by each of you!”

He observed that the academic prowess of the recipients was reflected in their collective grade point averages of 3.5 out of a 4.0 point scale. They have majors in fields as diverse as law, computer science, neuroscience, audiology, rehabilitation counseling, civic engagement and even Bluegrass/Country/Old Time Music Studies.

Noting that an important theme of this year’s scholarship program was “How The Lighthouse Launches Careers,” Mr. Lader observed that students should think of their awards as just the start of their careers and that The Chicago Lighthouse can help them in all aspects of their lives, including job training and placement along with providing the latest in innovative assistive technology devices.

Lighthouse President and CEO Dr. Janet Szlyk also congratulated the students and thanked Dr. Kaplan, Mr. Lader, the Lighthouse Board and all the program’s generous donors for their support. She praised the recipients for embodying the spirit of The Lighthouse and its mission.

Also highlighting the event were moving presentations from two very special speakers, Jillian Wuorenma and Dawn Hale. Jillian is a previous four-time scholarship recipient who studied in Russia while earning her degree in Russian and German at Mount Holyoke College. She graduated cum laude in May. Dawn is a contract specialist in the organization’s Contract Management Services (CMS) program who is being nominated for a prestigious Samuelson Employee of the Year Award from the National Industries for the Blind. Her daughter, Madison, is also a graduate of our Preschool.

Following the ceremony, recipients and their families met with donors; posed for photos and enjoyed treats, which were provided from Scooter’s Frozen Custard and Sprinkles Cupcakes.


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