RECORDING FOR THE BLIND & DYSLEXIC® HONORS SCHOLARS, PNC BANK AT NATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS GALA OCTOBER 14 IN PRINCETON
October 14, 2004 (Princeton, NJ) The national headquarters and New Jersey Unit of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D®) co-hosted the 2004 National Achievement Awards (NAA) gala on Thursday, October 14, 2004, at the Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village.
The National Achievement Awards recognize RFB&D members who demonstrate extraordinary scholarship, leadership, enterprise and service to others with Scholastic Achievement Awards for college seniors with visual impairments, and Learning Through Listening® Awards for high school seniors with learning disabilities.
Our National Achievement Awards recognize the accomplishments of students who are role models, not only for people with disabilities, but for all of us who endeavor to reach our full potential as students and as citizens, said Richard O. Scribner, RFB&D President & CEO.
This year, RFB&D presented its Enabling America Award to PNC Bank for its contributions to the advancement of educational and professional opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Peter K. Classen, chief executive officer of PNC Banks Corporate Banking business, accepted the award on behalf of PNC.
The keynote speaker at this years NAA gala was Michael Hingson. An RFB&D member and former National Achievement Award winner himself, Michael and his guide dog Roselle are the heroic survivors of the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, where he worked as district sales manager for Quantum Data Protection Division. Michael is now the national public affairs representative for Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, CA.
RFB&D is a national nonprofit organization based in Princeton, NJ. It is the nations leading provider of recorded textbooks in every subject area and grade level for students with print disabilities, such as visual impairment or a learning disability. In addition to recording books for the organizations master collection, the New Jersey Unit also provides equipment, training and assistance to educators throughout the state who seek to incorporate RFB&Ds Learning Through Listening® strategies to benefit students with print disabilities in the classroom.
The NAA award winners this year were:
Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Award:
Matthew VanFossan, Pittsburgh, PA:
Matthew graduated with a degree in politics and Latin American studies from Oberlin College, OH, with a 3.5 grade point average. He has volunteered as a braille tutor, mentor, researcher, writer and fundraiser, and has been active on campus to strengthen bonds and activism among students with disabilities. Matthew will soon continue his education with a scholarship from Rotary International to study the politics of disability in Brazil.
Alicia Verlager, Dorchester, MA:
Alicia feels strongly that technology and books can open new worlds for people with disabilities. She graduated with a 3.88 grade point average from the University of Massachusetts, where she helped to improve online learning accessibility for students with disabilities. Alicia is currently attending M.I.T. and hopes to continue merging the worlds of technology and the written word.
Kristen Witucki, Pine Hill, NJ:
Totally blind since birth, Kristen initially rejected audio books in favor of braille. She admits, however, that it didnt take long to realize that Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic was a mainstay for achieving her academic dreams. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Vassar with a 3.58 grade point average as well as a New York State Teaching Certification. Kristen currently attends Columbia Universitys Teachers College.
Marion Huber Learning Through Listening Award:
Abigail Baum, Mill Valley, CA:
A graduate of Cate School with a 4.0 grade point average, Abigail plans to join the Peace Corps and perhaps become a doctor. Outside the classroom, Abigails interests include soccer, lacrosse, singing, acoustic guitar and photography. She has also traveled to Mexico three times a year for the past three years to help build schools.
Rebecca Diakunczak, Middleburgh, NY:
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of eight months, Rebeccas parents were told it was unlikely she would complete high school, let alone college. She proved doctors wrong when she graduated high school with an academic average of 92.5. In addition, Rebecca introduced a school disability awareness program named Everybody Counts. Rebecca attends Wright State University in Ohio.
Adam Koplewicz, New York, NY:
Adam graduated with a grade point average of 3.77 from Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in New York, where he excelled in tennis, soccer and basketball. He worked on the school newspaper, and achieved the honor of Whos Who Among American High School Students 2002-2003. He attends Brown University and hopes to become a neuroscientist and find a cure for dyslexia.
Interview opportunities are available by calling Mark Zustovich, RFB&D media relations associate, at 609-520-7993. # # #
Photo (l-r): Richard O. Scribner, Michael Hingson, Kristen Witucki, Alicia Verlager, Abigail Baum, Rebecca Diakunczak, Peter Classen, Adam Koplewicz and Tom Trainor. Not pictured, Matthew VanFossan.