The National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families at Through the Looking Glass announced the winners of its 2010 College Scholarships for Students of Parents with Disabilities.
Funding was only available for ten scholarships, yet nearly 600 students from across the U.S. applied for these scholarships.
Although there are over 9 million American parents with disabilities, there are almost no scholarships specifically for the hundreds of thousands of students who have parents with disabilities. These awards not only recognize the diversity and contributions of these families, but their financial need. U.S. families with a disabled parent are twice as likely to be below the poverty level than are families with non-disabled parents. In addition, standard college financial aid applications do not typically weigh the considerable medical or specialized equipment expenses that many parents with disabilities incur. These expenses can substantially reduce the family income by tens of thousands of dollars each year.
Each award is a $1,000 college scholarship for an outstanding high school senior or college student who has at least one parent with a disability. Selection criteria included academic performance, community service, letters of recommendation and an essay describing the experience of growing up with a parent with a disability. Students applying for these scholarships included those with parents who were quadriplegic, blind, deaf, amputees, as well as parents with spinal cord injury, cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, mental illness, ALS, HIV/AIDS, traumatic brain injury, muscular dystrophy or intellectual disability. As one of several projects of the National Center, these scholarships are funded through the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education.
In their essays, the winning students describe the routine, remarkable and sometimes difficult stories of parents with disabilities and their children. Individual stories are dramatic, candid, humorous, loving, provocative and moving. Despite the wide variation in parental disability and other demographic features among scholarship applicants, several consistent themes emerged that have been documented over the years by Through the Looking Glass in national research studies: the normalcy of growing up with a parent with a disability, and the resilience and strength of these families despite social and financial obstacles. The winning essays can be found on our website: www.lookingglass.org
Many of the essays submitted for these scholarships underscore the need for increased resources and accommodations for parents with disabilities and their families throughout the U.S. Despite some progress, parents with disabilities and their families remain largely invisible in the larger society and are often left to fend for themselves with inadequate and inaccessible resources. For many families, their best and only resources are the family members themselves.
A new round of scholarship applications will be announced on Through the Looking Glass' website www.lookingglass.org in January 2011. Also, anyone wishing to contribute to this Scholarship Fund may make a donation to "Through the Looking Glass," and indicate that this is for the Scholarship Fund. Mail to: Through the Looking Glass, 2198 Sixth Street #100, Berkeley, CA 94710 or call (800) 644-2666.
Scholarships have been awarded to the following students:
Cameron Allen (hometown Spokane Valley, WA; attending the University of Washington);
Anna Butrym (West Columbia, SC; Erskine College);
Ivy Crowder (Orlando, FL; College of Charleston, SC);
Mary Katherine Fanning (St. Louis, MO; The Johns Hopkins University);
Jessica Guzman (Columbia, MD; St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN);
Megan Hasenyager (Rockwall, TX; University of Oklahoma);
Bridget Hickey (Chicago, IL; Northern Illinois University);
Jenna Morris (Springville, CA; Fresno Pacific University);
Wendy Ramirez (Houston, TX; University of Houston Downtown);
Stephen (SouthEastern U.S.).
The winning essays can be found on our website: www.lookingglass.org
About Through the Looking Glass - Founded in 1982, Through the Looking Glass (TLG) is a nationally recognized center that has pioneered research, training, and services for families in which a child, parent or grandparent has a disability. In 1998, TLG was funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) as the first National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families. In October 2008, TLG was awarded a three year grant by NIDRR to continue our national work with parents with disabilities and their families. Under this funding, TLG is conducting several national research projects that increase the knowledge about parents with disabilities and their families as well as provide critically needed data to inform local, regional, and national policies. The National Center continues TLG's overall mission of empowering parents and potential parents with disabilities by disseminating disability-appropriate information regarding parenting to parents, disability advocates, and legal, medical, intervention and social services providers. The Center's overall goal is to increase information and support more disability-appropriate resources for parents with disabilities and their children throughout the U.S.
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