$10K scholarships awarded to 15 visually impaired students

Published: Jun. 26, 2022 at 9:37 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 27, 2022 at 6:19 AM EDT
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VERGENNES, Vt. (WCAX) - Some students who are visually impaired are celebrating $10,000 scholarships.

Providing the opportunity for students here in Vermont and in New York the chance to further their education-- that’s the goal of the Lighthouse Guild.

Fifteen students were chosen by the nonprofit Lighthouse Guild to help pave the way toward higher education.

For one recipient, nothing is stopping her from achieving her dream.

“I remember what it feels like to hide parts of your identity, to feel like you’re not valuable. I don’t want any other people to go through that,“ Una Fonte said.

Fonte is from Vergennes. She was born with albinism, a condition that affects the production of melanin or the pigment that colors skin hair and eyes. The condition left her blind.

“I’ve got uncorrectable, bad vision and I have my entire life,” Fonte said. “I describe it as my visual map in my head has been shaped by the vision that I have.”

Each year, the Lighthouse Guild, a nonprofit out of New York, provides services and scholarships to students who are visually impaired to help them attain their goals. President and CEO Dr. Calvin Roberts says that’s something that nothing should stand in the way of.

“The goals of people who are visually impaired are really the same as people who are sighted,” Roberts said. “But they don’t have the same access, they don’t have the same facility to get education as do people who are sighted.”

Fonte says after spending a few years at Vergennes High School, she enrolled in United World Colleges. Just this year, Fonte graduated and became one of 15 students in both New York and Vermont to receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Lighthouse Guild to help pave the way toward higher education.

“What we’re looking for is students who have great potential, who have demonstrated through high school that they have the potential to learn if given the opportunity,” Roberts explained.

Fonte will start at Smith College in the fall majoring in environmental studies and policy, but aside from her career path, she says she wants to pave the way for people just like her.

“I kind of feel like the sense of responsibility, to use it in a way that does promote disability justice in a way that not only will help me achieve my goals and get the education that I need for the job that I want, but to also use this to advocate for other people with disabilities,” said Fonte.

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