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, polio, traumatic brain injury, muscular dystrophy or intellectual disability. As one of several projects of the
Eleven $1,000 scholarships have been awarded to the following students: High School Seniors: Ansley Bredar (Danville, KY), Allen Etzler III (Walkersville, MD), Alina Ostrow (Franklin, MA), Jeffrey Rosenbaum (Dallas, TX), Danielle Spencer (Layton, UT), and Sarah Steelman (Las Vegas, NV). College Students: Amanda Gallagher (Feasterville, PA), Matthew Gorman (Torrington, CT), Courtney Kurinec (Cameron, NC), Caitlin Thorn (Las Vegas, NV), and Lee Vandivier (Philadelphia, PA).
In their essays, the winning students describe 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 several 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. Below are excerpts from essays by four of the scholarship winners:
My father suffered a major stroke in 2004 and many of the effects of that stroke are still with him today. Living with a person who is disabled obviously has its down sides and is pretty tough, but what people don’t realize is that I’m kind of lucky. I’ve had the opportunity to become far closer to my father than most kids will ever be. –Allen Etzler III
Watching my mom fight to get out of bed and walk by herself, things I normally take for granted, has taught me how much power I have to accomplish whatever I put my mind to. Believing she should have died decades ago, my mother is a medical miracle by no accident. Despite the bad hand she’s been dealt, my mother is one of the strongest people I know and has taught me that a good attitude can go a long way. From her I have learned that as long as I believe in myself, no hurdle is ever too big to overcome. – Sarah Steelman
I know that life has not dealt my father the best hand, but I am still very proud of him, not only for what he has done for this country and for our family, but for the fact that he wakes up every day, in chronic pain, and doesn’t give up. I am proud of the fact that he wants to help other injured soldiers. My father has inspired me to not give up when things get bad, because if he can live with severe pain for years, then I can deal with whatever life hands me. – Courtney Kurinec
So, what is it like growing up with parents who have a disability? In many ways it is just like growing up with a parent who does not have a disability. The trick to adolescent survival is to remember that some days go smoothly with little conflict, where other days are filled with embarrassment, frustration, and anger. My wisdom is that disabled persons are also abled persons in so many ways and the goal is to search out and discover the gifts. –Jeffrey Rosenbaum
Complete essays of all the scholarship winners are posted on Through the Looking Glass’ website: www.lookingglass.org
Many of the essays underscore the need for increased resources and accommodations for disabled parents and their families throughout the
A new round of scholarship applications will be announced on Through the Looking Glass’ website in January 2010.
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,