The winners of the 2011 Anne Ford & Allegra Ford Scholarship Award
Eleigha Love, who describes her brain as a computer, and Jared Schmidt, a teenage sky diver, are each recipients of $10,000 Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Scholarships given to two graduating high school seniors with documented learning disabilities (LD) who are pursuing undergraduate degrees. Anne Ford, Chairman Emerita of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), is a well-known philanthropist and author, who has been a long-time parent advocate for children with learning disabilities, starting with her own daughter, Allegra. The scholarship was created in 2001 by the NCLD board when Ms. Ford stepped down as chairman, in honor of her service. In 2008, Allegra agreed to match the existing award, creating a second scholarship.
Anne Ford and Today Show Host Al Roker presented the scholarships at this year's NCLD 34th Annual Benefit Dinner, emceed by Paula Zahn in New York City. Jared and Eleigha are two of more than 2.5 million students who are wrestling with learning disabilities. They are among the mere 64 percent of students with LD who graduate high school, and only 10 percent with LD who go on to a four-year college.
"We received over 300 applications, and everyone of them came from students deserving a scholarship," said Anne, handing out the awards to this year’s winners. “We hear so much about the challenges and struggles of students with LD, and it is so inspiring to see that so many are able to meet and surpass those challenges."
Runners up for this year's scholarship award are: Claire Simons of St. Johnsbury, VT, and Clark Miner, of Manchester, MO. Honorable mentions include: Cythia Barrie, Kirsten Bell, Kevin Craft, Jennifer Smith, Zoe Troxell-Whitman, Luke DeLaura, Gryphin Kelly, Casey Naab, Jana Simmons, and Teighlor Smith. The winners and runners up receive Kurzweil software, each of the runners up receives a one-time cash award, and honorable mentions receive gift cards from NCLD.
About the Winners
Jared Schmidt, 18, is from Hermon, Maine. Home schooled during his early elementary school years, his dyslexia and dysgraphia were first identified at the end of the fifth grade. The oldest of four boys to a single mom, she rarely got to him at homework time because she was busy with the younger kids. Jared also held down an afterschool job to help out at home, working up to 28 hours a week. With the right support, Jared excelled in school, earning A’s in economics and physiology, played basketball, and is part of a Wilderness Intensive Leadership Development (WILD) program in northern Maine that exposed him to other teens with other real life struggles. After college, Jared aspires to work in youth ministry or as a school counselor.
Read Jared Schmidt’s winning essay.
Eleigha Love, 16, is from Flower Mound, Texas. After she was found to have dyslexia in third grade, Eleigha made the conscious choice to excel not retreat. She won spelling bees and Latin competitions and became a mentor to others with LD. In high school she volunteered working with incarcerated youth. "I learned that many of those who are incarcerated are very bright individuals who have undetected or untreated learning disabilities. They didn't learn the skills to compensate and advocate for themselves, so many turned to alcohol, drugs and crime to cope and survive. I'd specifically like to work with juvenile offenders, giving them hope that they can succeed and become productive members of society by helping them learn to read and to learn self-advocacy." She is graduating a year early from high school, and may pursue a career in criminal justice or substance abuse counseling. She will be attending the University of Central Oklahoma in the fall.
Read Eleigha Love’s winning essay.