2016 RiSE Scholarship Foundation, Inc. Awards

These 5 students will receive $2500.00 from RiSE Scholarship Foundation, Inc. payable to the school they enroll in for Fall 2016. Congrats!!


Kent Harris

Lutheran High School

Lone Tree, Colorado


Being an impressive student, a record holding track athlete, a passionate volunteer, a recognized artist and a “double exceptional student”, it is dyslexia that Kent Harris says he is grateful for. He recalls discovering his learning challenge as…. “I was bright and full of energy. Life was perfectly simple until the day I had to read a book by myself!” Each book became an “elementary school bully” that day and he saw the letters “dance off the page”.

Having dyslexia made reading a challenge, but he now looks as it as “cultivating a drive” in him. The disability made Kent have to be assigned to take slower classes than he preferred and this frustration made him turn to art to find peace and refuge. He decided to work harder than he had in the past and really put in the “grind”, this soon became second nature to him. The limits that others put on him and the definition of dyslexia made him think twice about his ambitions, but eventually proved to him not to accept other’s “words as facts” but to challenge them and to excel in his ambitions.

Kent regards himself as a “conqueror” and we find him to be a wonderful example of using an adversity as a strength building character. His work ethic and compassion for others is continually seen at school and in his community. Recently Kent was a part of a mural painting project in his town and as his counselor describes him, “his leadership, personality and character have been a blessing”. RiSE can see why! Congrats Kent!!

Owen Nuss

Denver School of the Arts

Denver, Colorado

 This young man has accomplished a remarkable amount of work in his high school career. He knows his passion, his learning style, his visual mind and where he is headed. His high school counselor, Kristy Jaramillo describes Owen as leaving a “lasting impression on you”, and we at RiSE agree.

Born in Russia and adopted to a family with other adopted siblings, Owen feels grateful that his family understood his gift for art and creativity. They were able to nurture the creative side of him and allow him time to pursue building things like a “huge Harry Potter Lego castle” by the directions (which were pictures) then tearing it down to reconstruct it.

In elementary school Owen’s dyslexia was not much of a hindrance he recalls, as he was able to use visual presentations and most work was hands on. This changed when he reached middle school. During that time, he felt “like a fish out of water” . The standardized tests did not show his skills. He was losing confidence and felt different. Luckily his parents were able to find a school that better suited him and Dylan enrolled in the Denver School of the Arts.

This school allowed Owen to thrive. He found friends that “thought like him” and what he may have viewed as a weakness, in art it made him a “unique thinker”. Today Owen is interested in becoming a theatre creator and storyteller. He plans on furthering his education at Denison University in the fall and hopes to take theater education to other parts of the world. To read more about Owen and see his portfolio, please see www.owennuss.com.

Sam Price

Bishop Ireton High School

Alexandria, Virginia

Upon looking at Sam’s high school resume, it is difficult to see that he has had any experiences with learning challenges. His competitive academic success, his love and talent in music and his interest in sports may not show that this student has had to overcome much adversity, but reading Sam’s RiSE application and gratitude essay show that this is not the case.

“Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. These three words have come to define my life as long as I can remember”, Sam writes. Being adopted as an infant from South Korea, Sam’s mother homeschooled he and his sister. Aware that he did not understand the words in the books as well as his sister made Sam feel frustrated. He saw that the “letters were backward and upside down”. His mother recognized the difficulties and began to seek a diagnosis, which were dyslexia, dysgraphia and auditory processing disorder. Over the years Sam attended vision therapy, speech therapy and as he puts it “dozens of clinics” trying to help with reading. The methods that were used were Linda Mood Bell and Orton Gillingham Programs. Also at home his mother used Barton Reading and Spelling program.

Sam credits his parents with not only teaching him to read, but to “overcome and manage his disability”. His accommodations at school are preferential seating and extended time to complete tests which is very common and helpful for students with LD. He enjoys History in school and participating in mission trips through his church. He is the Varsity Team Captain for his Swim Team and is a member of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble at Bishop Ireton as well. We wish Sam the best in his college choice and can’t wait to follow his successful future!

Kyle Russi

Pinewood Preparatory School

Summerville, South Carolina

 Kyle’s story is like so many we read at RiSE. The students will often say they did not understand how they would study and their test scores did not match the effort they gave to the assignment. They could study for hours and hours and still not pass the test. Many students will not score well on standardized tests and the scores do not reflect their knowledge. Luckily for Kyle though, his parents sought an evaluation and this brought along an answer for Kyle and a sense of relief.

Courageously this well-liked, charming student, Kyle, shares his story of hiding his “inability to read”. He recalls asking to be excused and go to the bathroom instead of reading aloud in class in elementary school.

As a high school student he would download audiobooks instead of reading the book. He would drive his little sister to school in the morning and have her read assignments to him, he often would ask SIRI for the spelling of a word and “always found ways to get by”. He assumed, “reading was not his thing”. He had done well in most all areas including tennis; other sports and was on the honor roll.

His Biology teacher in 7th, 9th and 11th grades did not realize Kyle had a reading disorder as most of her assignments were lab work and he showed mastery in this area.

It was not until Kyle’s mother was “suspicious” and had him tested. At 17, the diagnosis is met with optimism. Kyle is finally realizing his brain is “processing information” differently and he is finding ways to read and process sounds which he never expected. He realized this has nothing to do with his intelligence and it can be rectified and he can receive accommodations that will benefit him greatly while studying in college. Although advocating make be a new skill for Kyle, we at RiSE know he is up for the challenge!! Congrats Kyle on heading to the Clemson University and for sharing your story!

Dylan Seidler

Orinda Academy

Orinda, California

 Getting to know Dylan, we at RiSE could see how she could think she “stuck out like a sore thumb” in kindergarten. She is different and in a wonderful way!! Dylan’s   empathy (she credits her Non-verbal learning difference, NVLD, as the reason for being an empathic individual) is seen in her passion for animals, family, friends and the world. She describes herself as “noticing the little things and loves to explore creativity”.

Dylan is an “outstanding student” according to Orinda Academy’s Academic Dean, Norman Coleman. Dylan maintains her academic achievements while also the balancing her social activism outside of school. She has started a website www.nickels4knowledge.org where she organizes and collects bottles and cans to recycle and proceeds to donates to the funds to support girl’s education abroad.

Dylan loves her job as a volunteer at the Marine Mammal Center and at Trails for Success, which is a therapeutic equine center. She is also a peer mentor at her school.

Dylan’s teachers compliment her desire to learn and her determination to give 110%. She has been accepted to her number one choice of college, which is Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. Congrats Dylan!!