Release Date: 
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Announces 2018 Scholarship Program Finalists

Baltimore, Maryland (May 29, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people, today announced the finalists for its 2018 Scholarship Program, which awards thirty scholarships each year to recognize achievement by blind scholars. The students are listed below in alphabetical order with their home states and vocational goals.

  • Naim Muawia Abu-El Hawa, VA: Diplomat
  • Alexandra Alfonso, DC: Music, Education, and Pre-law
  • Tasnim Alshuli, AZ: Professor
  • Millad Bokhouri, PA: Medical program designer
  • Tyron Bratcher, MD: Rehabilitation counselor
  • Chrys Buckley, OR: Physician
  • Ozgul Calicioglu, PA: Environmental sustainability specialist
  • Olivia Charland, MA: Conservation biologist
  • Purvi Contractor, TX: Aerospace
  • Kenia Flores, NC: Civil rights attorney
  • John Harrison, WI: Advocate
  • Eric Harvey, CA: Near East cultural specialist
  • Justin Heard, GA: Teacher
  • J.D. Humphrey, MI: Ethnomedicine
  • Trisha Kulkarni, OH: Software engineer
  • Amanda Lannan, FL: Teacher education
  • Shane Lowe, KY: Cyber security and business administration
  • Seth Lowman, ID: Sound design and music production
  • Sara Mornis, VT: Writing and psychology
  • Connor Mullin, NJ: Cane travel instructor
  • Sara Patnaude, VA: Victim’s advocate
  • Menuka Rai, ND: Physical therapist
  • Elizabeth Rouse, IA: Attorney
  • Yasmine Marie Sarraf, AZ: Forensic scientist
  • Caitlin Sarubbi, NY: Physician
  • Rilee Sloan, OK: Attorney
  • Harry Staley, Jr., TX: Autonomous vehicle development
  • Matt Turner, ID: Economics and technology
  • Cathy Tuton, OK: Dietician
  • Paige Young, ME: Business administration

“The scholarship program is one of our most important initiatives,” said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We are proud to honor these blind scholars, who are studying everything from sound design to international diplomacy, and to welcome each of them to our upcoming national convention and to the family of the National Federation of the Blind. The accomplishments of these outstanding students are proof of our conviction that we, the blind of this nation, can live the lives we want; blindness does not hold us back.”

Each finalist will attend the NFB’s seventy-eighth annual national convention, beginning July 3, in Orlando, Florida, where the Scholarship Committee will spend several days getting to know each student and then decide which scholarship (ranging in value from $3,000 to $12,000) to award each of them. The scholarship winners will then be announced at the banquet of the NFB National Convention on Sunday, July 8.

For more information on the National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Program, visit