Lighthouse Guild Announces National Scholarships to Students

Who Are Blind and Awards to Their Motivational Teachers

New York (August 22, 2017) – Students face many hurdles to getting accepted and paying for the college of their choice. For a student with vision loss it can be especially challenging. For this reason, Lighthouse Guild, the leading not-for-profit vision and healthcare organization, grants scholarships to students who are legally blind. The scholarships are awarded to students across the country based on strong academic accomplishment and merit.

The role teacher’s play in motivating students often goes unrecognized. For students who are blind a great teacher can make all the difference. Realizing this, Lighthouse Guild offers scholarships to outstanding students who are legally blind and also recognizes their outstanding teachers. Lighthouse Guild’s teacher awards are based on nominations from the students themselves.  

Students and Teachers Tell Their Stories
Among those students receiving a 2017
Lighthouse Guild scholarship is Braden Flax, a resident of Merrick, New York, who will be attending Princeton University in the fall. Mr. Flax says of his teacher Neal Madnick, “Mr. Madnick has encouraged me to state clearly and honestly my thoughts and to take advantage of, and maximize, the productivity of my academic and other talents.”  

Mr. Madnick, who lives in Flushing, New York and teaches history at Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick, New York says, “Braden is an extraordinary student who is passionate about politics, history and helping others. He is a role model and an inspiration. I am humbled and honored to receive this award.”

Scholarship recipient Cricket Bidleman, who lives in Morro Bay, California and will be attending Stanford University, says, “My high school only had 800 students, but it was still daunting for a blind person.” She speaks about how her physics teacher went above and beyond making her detailed homemade maps in Braille to help her get around the classroom.

Ms. Bidleman says, “My teacher taught me that I can do physics. He inspired me to continue learning and working toward my dreams, no matter how impractical they may seem to others.”  

Each year, Lighthouse Guild awards scholarships of up to $10,000 to college bound high school graduates who are legally blind. The scholarships provide financial support to help students attend the college of their choice. Lighthouse Guild also provides scholarships of up to $5,000 to graduate students to help them continue their academic studies. Each recipient of the Lighthouse Guild Teacher’s Award receives $2,500.

Since its inception in 2005,
Lighthouse Guild’s Scholarship Program has awarded over $2 million in scholarships to outstanding students from 36 states.  This year 10 high school students and two graduate students are receiving scholarships. Two teachers are receiving awards.

Dr. Alan Morse, President and CEO of Lighthouse Guild, says, “Education unlocks doors. Lighthouse Guild is pleased to help outstanding students who are legally blind advance their studies and unlock the door to a successful future. We are equally pleased to acknowledge teachers who help students realize their dreams.”

“We receive hundreds of scholarship applications and essays nominating teachers from amazing students across the country,” says Gordon Rovins, Director of Special Programs at Lighthouse Guild. These students have powerful stories of personal triumph and academic achievement. We congratulate them, their teachers and their families.”

In addition to Braden Flax and Cricket Bidleman, other students receiving 2017 Lighthouse Guild Scholarships are listed below with the schools they will be attending:
•    Jason Willett, Greensboro, NC  (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
•    Robert Schiller, Malverne, NY  (University of Notre Dame)
•    Sophia Evangelatos, Portsmouth, RI  (Boston University)
•    Aishwarya Pai, Sunnyvale, CA (Santa Clara University)
•    Nathaniel Smith, Jupiter, FL (University of Central Florida)
•    Graham Rainsby, Brooklyn, NY  (Middlebury College)
•    Emily Eagle, Keller, TX  (University of Notre Dame)
•    Ethan Markowitz, Syosset, NY (Northwestern University)
•    Moses Babafemi, Los Angeles, CA (California State University: MA Rehab Counseling)
•    Chelsea Muth, Philipsburg, PA (Penn State University: PhD Human Development)

Brilliant Careers for Past Award Recipients
Former Lighthouse Guild Scholarship recipients, have gone on to careers as attorneys, teachers, engineers, chemists, composers, musicians, neuro-scientists, social workers, business owners, investors, epidemiologists, nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, journalists and computer scientists.  

Dr. Skylar Covich, who received a scholarship from Lighthouse Guild in 2005, recently completed his PhD in political science and is now an adjunct professor at California State University Channel Islands. He speaks about how the Lighthouse Guild Scholarship Program helped him. “I wanted to attend a smaller liberal arts college where I would get more individualized attention as a blind person. The Lighthouse Guild Scholarship helped me attend the college of my choice and started me on the path to a productive and enjoyable career.”     
About Lighthouse Guild
Lighthouse Guild, based in New York, is the leading not-for-profit vision and healthcare organization dedicated to addressing and preventing vision loss through coordinated vision and health services.  With Lighthouse Guild, people who are at risk for, or affected by, vision loss have access to all the resources necessary to lead full, independent and productive lives.  For more information, visit