Meet RFB&D’s Top Achievement Award Winners
2007 Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Award Winners
Juliet Cody (pictured, far right)
Early in her adult life, Juliet started her own family, opened a family day care business and was successful in providing preschool enrichment programs. Not long afterward, she developed retinitis pigmentosa and quickly began to lose her eyesight. Reluctantly, she closed her center and gave thought to a new career.
Returning to school as a student who was blind, Juliet worried about finding a reader and completing her assignments — until her rehabilitation counselor introduced her to RFB&D. She remembers “joy and relief, and, from that day on, RFB&D became my helmsman.”
Not only did RFB&D’s audiobooks give Juliet independence, they helped her become an honors student and re-establish her confidence. In the spring of 2007, Juliet received her bachelor of arts in communication from California State University. She plans to continue her education in rehabilitation counseling.
As well as being an excellent student, Juliet’s community support benefits various Californian chapters of organizations, including Guide Dogs for the Blind, National Federation of the Blind and the Disabilities Issues Advisory Committee, as well as many preschool and high school students and parents. In her presentations, she recommends RFB&D and comments, “As families learn about this resource, they all agree it is a blessing ….”
Jessie Kirchner (pictured, far left)
Jessie, one of four surviving quintuplets, was the first child who was blind to be mainstreamed in her public school. With the help of assistive technology, she excelled through her early school years. Of RFB&D’s audiobooks, Jessie comments, “There came a time during high school when I couldn’t imagine being without them. RFB&D’s books were indispensable to me.”
In high school, Jessie performed in bands and choirs and as a church soloist. She also advocated on behalf of the blindness community, testifying before the U.S. Senate about the benefits of a bill that would give students who are blind access to textbooks simultaneously with their sighted classmates.
During Jessie’s studies at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, a restorative justice internship in the Minnesota Department of Corrections helped reinforce her decision to work with crime victims, offenders, their families and communities.
Jessie graduated with a GPA of 3.71 and is currently pursuing a joint degree in law and social work at the University of Michigan. She believes that RFB&D has helped give her a “superior academic and extracurricular education. I hope to use my education and skills for lasting community improvement and social change on local and perhaps even national levels,” she says.
Tiffany West (second from left)
With few accommodations made for her visual impairment during her early schooling, Tiffany’s sheer determination to succeed ensured that she kept pace with her classmates.
In her third year of college, the Commission of the Blind in Lincoln, NE, introduced her to RFB&D. “Audio textbooks opened my eyes to a whole new world of learning,” says Tiffany. After hours looking closely at books “It saved me not only time, but a lot of neck and back pain as well.”
Not only is Tiffany self-determined, she also spends considerable time helping others. In recognition of this, Tiffany was awarded the Young Women in Excellence Recognition Award. Most recently, she has contributed to Project SAFE and the Newlywed Project within the clinical psychology department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).
Tiffany graduated with a 3.5 GPA and a bachelor of arts in psychology from UNL. She says, “RFB&D has played a significant role in my obtaining such a high GPA …. It has made my life so much easier and enhanced my knowledge greatly.”
Her goal is to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology and become a therapist for victims of family violence. It seems Tiffany took it to heart when her sixth grade teacher told her she did not have a disability; she only had more motivation to achieve greatness.
2007 Marion Huber Learning Through Listening Award Winners
Kirsten Amling (center)
Santa Barbara, CA
Kirsten spent her early years longing to be considered “normal” — developing her passion for ballet dancing to express herself without “being encumbered by words.”
“My silent struggle to hide my slow learning made me feel inferior and stupid,” she says. Specialists later diagnosed Kirsten with dyslexia, but told her parents she would outgrow it. Her father, who also has dyslexia, knew differently. When limited school accommodations were offered, her parents chose home schooling instead.
Later, while seeking the help of a doctor specializing in learning disabilities, Kirsten became aware of RFB&D. Listening to RFB&D’s audiobooks provided her with a new sense of independence and success — and enough confidence to apply and get accepted to Bryan College in Tennessee.
In addition to Kirsten’s academic pursuits, she trained a guide dog puppy for 18 months, assisted in placing 500 children on soccer teams through the American Youth Soccer Organization and, through her church, participated in a mission trip to Fiji.
Regarding her dyslexia, Kirsten reflects, “I came to realize that I am not dumb, I just need different learning tools. In hindsight, I can honestly say I am glad that I am not an ‘average American teenager.’”
Abby Nash (second from right)
t one point during Abby Nash’s mother’s pregnancy, doctors suggested the pregnancy be terminated because they believed Abby’s fetal brain was underdeveloped. Ignoring their advice, Abby’s mother delivered a healthy baby girl.
Growing up, Abby was undeterred by difficulties she experienced in school, and, following a formal diagnosis of a Central Auditory Processing disorder, considered it to be a “minor setback.”
“I’ve made sure I have not let it stop me from doing the things I love,” she says. She also acknowledges the impact of RFB&D and comments that it has made “such a difference in my life and has contributed to my success ….”
A glance at this young woman’s resumé reveals that Abby loves leading a full and busy life! She served four years on her high school’s student government, including two years as President, and one as captain of her school’s field hockey team. She has participated in fundraisers, volunteered for the local hospice and Special Olympics, and was a member of the Student Activities Committee. Abby has nine academic and leadership awards to her credit and is considering becoming a special education teacher. She is currently enrolled at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana.
San Antonio, TX
Diagnosed with dyslexia in third grade, Daniel Steck started using RFB&D’s audiobooks on a regular basis, fueling his love of reading. “RFB&D opened up this world for me. Unlike my father, who also has dyslexia, I never came to dread books, but instead saw them as doors to knowledge and adventure,” he says.
As a teen, Daniel approached life as an adventure and an opportunity to assist others, volunteering at his church, local hospital and, most predominantly, through the Red Cross and helping at local flood shelters, manning first aid stations, organizing school fundraisers and a shelter for Hurricane Katrina victims. Daniel has served in many student volunteer leadership roles, including as Red Cross Youth Council President.
Daniel is currently studying mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University, gathering the necessary prerequisites to go on to medical school.
“When a student enjoys a subject, he or she will invariably achieve great success in it,” he says. “I hope to be able to convey to others what a difference RFB&D can make in their lives.”
“Education is a right, not a privilege.” — RFB&D founder, Anne T. Macdonald
Founded in 1948 by Anne T. Macdonald to provide recorded textbooks to blinded veterans of WWII, Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic® (RFB&D®) now provides audio educational materials to more than 185,000 people nationwide who cannot access standard print due to visual impairment, learning disability or other physical disability. For those with print disabilities, RFB&D offers a gateway to independence, self-esteem, and educational and personal success.
RFB&D’s Learning Through Listening Program is bringing measurable results to classrooms across the nation. Our specially-created educator support website at http://www.learningthroughlistening.org, provides lesson plans, classroom tips, videos and research results highlighting the importance of listening skills and the use of audiobooks.
To read more success stories about our remarkable members, as well as information about RFB&D’s services, history and how you can help, visit us at: http://www.rfbd.org
or call toll free: 866-RFBD-585 (866-732-3585)