Congratulations to these 5 Winners!

The RiSE Scholarship Foundation, Inc. judges had a hard time narrowing down the winners, as usual, as all the applicants were so terrific!

These 5 students will receive $2500.00 payable to the College or University they choose in the Fall of 2019! Best to all these winners, the applicants and and their families!

Sarah Blackwelder, North Carolina

A well-rounded student that loves sports, serves on student counsel and does well in her studies, this is Sarah Blackwelder. Although Sarah struggles with dyslexia, she is 100% aware of her accommodations her teachers say and willing to ask for them.  Her advice is to go the extra mile and strive for the best…..we would love you to see her video and see the spark that the judges saw in Sarah! Great job!!! Congrats!

Zane Cullinane Walsh, Maryland 

A creative, self determined, funny and focused senior who enjoys volunteering at the zoo in Maryland, Zane has always had a passion for science. The study of reptiles and herpetology are his main interests and he plans on pursuing this as a major next fall at college. Zane is quite the leader at school, a determined volunteer and an advocate for himself and other’s with learning differences. We see the passion he has for other’s and the desire to pay it forward! Way to go Zane!

Lauren Lapomardo , Massachusetts  

Busy Senior Lauren, works a part time job at the cinema, is a high school cheerleader and asst. coach. She enjoys volunteering and excels in her schoolwork. As Lauren remembers this was not always the case.  

As a child she struggled dyslexia which affected her reading and math performance.  

 She was in a school that did not provide her with specialized learning or accommodations to help her with this deficit. She felt defeated and was falling behind in grade level work. Eventually in 5th grade, the testing showed she was reading 4 grade levels behind.  

Luckily Lauren was able to change schools and find an occupational therapist who introduced her to software that was helpful. She worked hard and began to thrive by being the first student in 5th grade to have an I pad in class and other helpful tools.  She learned from the experience to advocate for herself and that although she was very intelligent, she would need to rely on tools and other avenues to express this.  

In high school, Lauren found that American Sign Language is a great choice for students with dyslexia and advocated by providing research to her school officials. She asked to be allowed to take this as her foreign language credit. They agreed and although it was not offered, she took it online and now others in her school have benefitted from her experience.  

Lauren would tell herself as a younger student not to worry and much and would be proud to show how far she has come!  

Julia McGahan, Georgia   

Julia enjoys playing basketball and hanging out with friends after school like most all high school students do! Heading to …. for college is right around the corner. This is exciting and shows the incredible progress she has made with the help of a wonderful school and the help of occupational therapy for her sensory processing disorder.  

Since she was a child, Julia has had a hard time in large crowds and with too much input visual, auditorily and touch.  This made school hard for her since the stimuli would distract her from the schoolwork. The clothes, “the way the paper sat on the desk and the way the pen felt” in her hand would take her focus. 

As she grew up, Julia  was able to learn more about her diagnosis. She learned useful strategies and was able to receive help from her friends, family and school.  Upon reflection , she now says although this is part of her, she will never let having a diagnosis interfere with what she is “meant to be”.  

We applaud all your work and know you will excel in the next steps! Congrats Julia!  

Spencer Tidwell, Texas

Spencer has been described as a go-getter and optimist, it is reflected in his advice to a “younger Spencer”, but can be used for any student coming to terms with their learning style.

“Give up and never give up.

Give up trying to do it the way it’s supposed to be done. Embrace your way of learning. Give up apologizing for being you. Remember, just because your path is different, doesn’t mean you are lost. By contrast, never give up trying to learn who you are, how your brain works and what you need to do to try to create a life that you want.”

“Your disability allows you to see things from a different perspective and that’s a gift.” Spencer has had to rely on this advice and used it to discover his resiliency. He has a vision impairment and executive functioning disorder along with ADHD. He has relied on his perspective and it has helped him progress to the man he is today.

Heading to college in the fall, Spencer is excited to start in a new environment and put his skills to work! Congrats Spencer!!   

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