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2006 Scholarship Winners

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) congratulates the following four outstanding Canadians, the 2006 annual Scholarship Programme award winners, for their academic achievements and ability to challenge hardship:

Laura Bulk, of Saanichton, British Columbia, is the winner of the AEBC National Achievement Scholarship. She was born in 1988 in Victoria, British Columbia, and now lives just outside the city with her family. She was born with a rare eye condition, known as corneal anaesthesia. She is currently attending Camosun College, pursuing her degree in dietetics. After working for a few years as a dietician, she hopes to volunteer on the Mercy Ships, which travel to developing nations to offer medical aid, before returning to school for her Masters in rehabilitation and mobility instruction for adults with vision loss.

When she is not in school, she enjoys her job at a chocolate and dessert shop, where she serves as a barista, chocolate-maker and waitress. During the spring, summer and fall she works at her family's garden center. In addition, she enjoys volunteering at the local hospital, baking, cooking, scrapbooking, and spending time with her large family. Whatever the future holds, wherever she goes, Laura will continue to be an advocate for the equality of persons who are blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted.

Jacob Vaynshteyn of Edmonton, Alberta, is the winner of the Business, Education and Technology Scholarship. He is 25 years old and has been partially sighted since birth, having been born without his right eye and only reduced vision in his left one. He is currently in his final year at the University of Lethbridge, where he is studying Management and majoring in Finance. His interests include hockey, curling, computers and technology, and politics.

He has always persevered and never allowed his disability to stop him from doing anything he set his mind to accomplish. He would like to thank his sister, Lalita, and his parents, Zalman and Esfira, for their unconditional love and support.

Jennifer Dillon, of Toronto, Ontario, is the winner of the AEBC Toronto Chapter Scholarship. She is in the final year of her Honours Bachelor in Environmental Studies at York University. As an infant she was diagnosed with macular dystrophy, a deteriorating eye condition. In her teens, she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, which has left her with only some light perception. After completing high school, Jennifer moved from a small town to Toronto where she obtained her diploma in social services and worked for several years in the disability field. She realized she had a passion for environmental issues and that her skills and talents would be well suited to the environmental profession. She therefore decided to make a career change and return to school.

She utilizes technology to excel academically and professionally and she is known to take out 20 books at a time from the library so that she can scan them at home and further her research. She is also enthusiastic about pursuing her Masters; however, she plans to first get established in her career. Jennifer hopes that her work in the field will lead to policy changes that will make pollution prevention a greater priority.

Danielle Laplante-Ip, of St. Laurent, Quebec, is the winner of the Alan H. Neville Memorial Scholarship. She would like to thank the scholarship committee, and the members of AEBC throughout Canada, for this wonderful scholarship opportunity. She is very proud to be a part of this groundbreaking organization since it gives a voice to people, like herself, who are living everyday with the social challenges of being blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted.

After the diagnosis that her eyesight was deteriorating from retinitis pigmentosa in the fall of 1998, Danielle realized that she needed to re-evaluate her life goals. Having a family history of vision impairment, she knew that she had to stay active. Consequently, in her late forties, after having raised two children, she decided to pursue her undergraduate studies in social work at McGill University, in Montreal.

This decision has brought about a lot of hard work with many rewards, as it reaffirmed a career path that she wishes to pursue in the future, working with people with disabilities. Hence, upon her graduation in the winter of 2007, she intends to pursue a Masters degree in social work and community development.

She truly has enjoyed her experience as a student. Her studies in social work have provided her with the knowledge base to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, as she hopes to eventually facilitate their access to valued social resources.

Says Marcia Cummings, AEBC's Scholarship Committee Chair, "I am happy to say that, each year, it is harder to choose only a few winners, as there are more and more bright sparks out there working hard to obtain relevant and valuable education."

Each year, the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians provides a minimum of three $1500 scholarships to assist outstanding Canadian students who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted in continuing in their field of study. Winners must provide personal letters describing how they have overcome barriers to education, and how they have contributed to their community, as well as their academic achievements. Recommendation letters for each winner cite their determination to succeed, and the value they place on education.

The deadline for the 2007 awards is October 15, 2007, and the documentation and application are already on our website, http://www.blindcanadians.ca (opens in a new window). Alternatively, you can request an electronic copy, via email at info@blindcanadians.ca or by phone at 800-561-4774. All questions regarding the 2007 scholarships should be directed to the Scholarship Committee via email at scholarship@blindcanadians.ca or by leaving a message at 800-561-4774.

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