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2009 Anne Ford & Allegra Ford Scholarship Winners

The winners of the 2009 Anne Ford & Allegra Ford Scholarship Award are Zeke Nierenberg and Macy Olivas.

The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) is proud to congratulate Zeke Nierenberg of El Cerrito, CA and Macy Olivas of San Diego, CA, the 2009 first prize winners of the Anne Ford & Allegra Ford Scholarship Award. Now in its eighth year and newly expanded due to a generous gift by Allegra Ford, this scholarship provides $10,000 toward tuition over four years to a graduating high school senior with learning disabilities (LD) who will pursue an undergraduate degree at a college or university. A prize of Kurzweil 3000 Scan/Read software is also presented to the award winners and the two award runners up. Runners up for this year's Scholarship Award are Carly Kohler of Forestville, CA and Kimberly Hudon of Milton, FL, who will receive a one-time cash award from NCLD and a Kurzweil software package.

afwinners-2009When Zeke Nierenberg of El Cerrito, California, struggled to learn to ride a bike, he taught himself to ride a unicycle instead. Identified with specific learning disabilities early in his elementary school years, Zeke has found new and interesting solutions to the challenges he has faced, maintaining a 3.6 GPA and being an active and contributing member of his school and local communities. Zeke has already dedicated his life to helping others, co-founding Future Builders, a nonprofit organization that organizes concerts and other fundraising events to support humanitarian and environmental causes, and spending his summers at Camp Winnarainbow, a circus and performing arts camp in Northern California that “strives to create a living environment of love, safety, and harmony.” Now, Zeke is off to Hampshire College, where he will pursue what he calls “the thing that is standing between me and my dreams: a college degree."

Macy Olivas of San Diego, California was first classified with a learning disability in her junior year of high school, when she revealed to a teacher that she woke up every morning at three a.m. to finish her homework assignments. Now, she uses her learning disability as “a gateway to discovering fun new methods of learning.” Articulate yet humble about her achievements, Macy has been accepted to numerous colleges and is rounding out her senior year with a 3.8 GPA and a wide array of activities including, (but not limited to): participating in the FIRST Robotics competition, acting as captain of the varsity cheerleading team, working with the interact club, and helping develop workshops for youths through the Building Understanding and Development in Determined Youth Program at local libraries and Boys and Girls Clubs.

Runner-Up Kimberly “Kimmy” Hudon of Milton, Florida likens the hurdles she ran for the high school track team to the challenges she has overcome in the classroom. Kimmy has hurdled her way through her high school career, maintaining a 3.7 GPA, and staying involved in a wide array of extracurricular activities including Marching Band, Track and Field, Cross Country, Musician’s Club, Drama Club, Spanish Club, and Science Club. She is ready now to face her next set of hurdles as she pursues an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences/ Pre-Pharmacy, She hopes someday to support the Special Olympics and to tutor students with learning disabilities.

Runner-Up Carly Kohler of Forestville, California, is finishing high school with a 4.0 GPA and a long list of accomplishments in the face of what she calls an “invisible disability.” President of the Interact Club, veterinary assistant at a local animal shelter, and a member of her school varsity track and field and golf teams, Carly maintains a very busy schedule, to say the least! She has devoted herself to many Native American awareness activities, acting as president of the Native American Club at her school, performing in a Native American Pop Group, and linking Native youth on reservations with viewing opportunities through the American Indian Film Institute. She plans to use her activism skills to spread awareness about learning disabilities, stating in her essay, “Now that I have gained the courage to claim all of who I am, I can represent not only my invisible heritage, but my own and others’ invisible disabilities. If our voices can be heard, then people will learn to accept unheard of disabilities as well as common ones.”