The 2010 Award Recipients Are:
Carlos Baeza - College Bound Award
As a high school senior from Rockport, Maine, Carlos has faced many challenges in his young life. Born prematurely in Colombia with cerebral palsy, he underwent a staggering 27 surgeries just to be able to walk. After moving to the United States, Carlos experienced a dramatic loss of vision in less than a 24-hour period due to retinal detachments at the age of 14. Despite these challenges, Carlos is an honors student, taking some college courses this year to get a jump on entering Florida State University in the fall. He wants to major in political science as the first step to becoming a lawyer.
Carlos and his Parents
Nandini Singh - Undergraduate Award
Nandini Singh, called Nikki, lost her sight at age 11, but never lost sight of her goals. She’s a straight-A student, double majoring in literature and philosophy at Yale. Nikki began her freshman year in the demanding directed studies humanities program, for which only 10 percent of her classmates were eligible. This year, Nikki tackled new subjects with determination and innovation. For example, she developed her own method for mastering the material in her logic class. Nikki created her own alternate notation system, which she could then replicate in computer Braille. This enabled her to do problem sets and take exams independently.
Nikki and Family
Desiree Rivera - Graduate Award
Desirée Rivera is the first in her family to attend college, as she is in pursuit of a Ph.D. in literature at Yale. Born with impaired vision, Desirée is passionate about studying English and American Indian literature, particularly during the colonial period. While an undergrad, Desirée was selected for the national McNair Scholars Achievement Program to research and write about a subject of her choosing. Desirée conducted a linguistic analysis of how early American missionaries translated indigenous languages in their efforts to convert Native Americans. She is now on her way to becoming a professor.
Jameyanne Fuller - Judy Van Nostrand Award
Jameyanne Fuller is from Concord, New Hampshire, and is a member of the National Honor Society. Her academic record is stellar. It includes all A’s and a perfect score on the Math SATs. But it’s her passion for writing that is boundless. Jameyanne, visually impaired since birth, began writing at six ― and hasn’t stopped, with 85 poems, 60 short stories and a handful of plays to her credit. She honed her skills at workshops for talented young writers held at Johns Hopkins, Brown, Kenyon and Middlebury College. And now she’s seeking an agent for her first fantasy novel. Jameyanne will be returning to Kenyon this fall as a freshman, and plans to earn an MFA in creative writing and a Ph.D. in literature.
Jameyanne giving her acceptance speech
Arron Robert Faxon, Jr - Harry G. Starr Award
Arron Robert Faxon, Jr., also known as AJ, is from Ruckersville, Virginia but can’t wait to enter Pennsylvania’s Kutztown State University in the fall. This will be the first step toward earning a degree in education for students who are visually impaired. Visually impaired since birth, AJ is passionate about community service projects and helping kids who face similar challenges to his own. His academic hurdles have been high. AJ not only attended, but thrived, in a rural school system, which has minimal and sometimes no accommodations for students with vision loss. He learned Braille as a secondary medium, and charted his own course of study, which included a class at a community college.
AJ giving an emotional speech
Janelys Hernandez - Syde Hurdus President’s Award
Janelys Hernandez enrolled in the Lighthouse Youth Transition Program at the age of 14. Three years later, she is now a confident role model. Last summer, during the Lighthouse transition program at Columbia University, Janelys demonstrated a keen sensitivity to a classmate who was having difficulty approaching adults, even in a drama class. Janelys first demonstrated what to do, and then stayed at her friend’s side to hold her hand through the exercise. In the fall, Janelys will enter the 11th grade at The Beacon School, a college-prep program in Manhattan. She keeps up a high GPA, while volunteering at a local hospital in the spirit of giving back to the community. She looks forward to attending college to study social work.
Janelys and her Father