Bel Air native proves dyslexia is no barrier to educational success
PRINCETON, NJ – Learning Ally, a 68-year-old nonprofit serving individuals with learning and visual disabilities, has bestowed its highest award to Auburn Stephenson of Bel Air, MD. She is one of six students from across the U.S. who received cash awards and traveled with their families to be honored at Learning Ally’s National Achievement Awards Gala celebration in Denver, Colorado in April.
Auburn is currently a freshman at Boston College, aiming to major in biochemistry, pursue a Doctorate and eventually work in a biochemical laboratory. Her diagnosis of having orthographic dyslexia didn’t come until she was 17. Prior to that, she says that she was left in the dark when it came to reading. “Embarrassed by my self-perceived stupidity," she says, "I was hesitant to raise my hand and wanted to disappear whenever called upon in class.”
After being introduced to Learning Ally by a tutor when she was a junior in high school, Auburn first downloaded Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and then “sat in disbelief, as I was able to finish my reading assignment (that normally would have taken three or four hours to complete) in an hour and a half. Learning Ally not only made reading easier and more enjoyable, but it provided me with something that everyone craves: time.
"A change in perspective, like relying on your ears and not only your eyes, can make a big difference in the way you look at a problem. Now I know there are multiple ways to understand and learn new concepts. And now that I can be a regular academic college student, I'm really interested in psychology, and how what I know with my learning difference and being diagnosed so late can help other people. I think that's what I want to do for kids. I want to show them that it's okay, that not everyone's the same and there are different ways to learn."
View a video profile of Auburn Stephenson
About the National Achievement Awards
Each year, Learning Ally honors exceptional students through the Marion Huber Learning Through Listening Awards, which were instituted in 1991 for high school seniors with learning differences such as dyslexia. Hundreds of students apply for these prestigious awards each year and are selected by committees of Learning Ally volunteers, board members, parents, educators, donors and staff. Students are recognized for their academic excellence, extraordinary leadership, and service to others; and they have thrived on their education paths thanks in part to their extensive use of accessible educational content and assistive technology provided by Learning Ally.
NOTE: Applications for this year’s scholarship awards are open until May 31 for high school student members of Learning Ally who have dyslexia and related learning disabilities. For more information, visit http://naa.LearningAlly.org
About Learning Ally
Founded in 1948, Learning Ally supports K-12, college and graduate students, veterans and lifelong learners – all of whom read and learn differently due to dyslexia, blindness or visual impairment, and other disabilities. The organization hosts live and virtual events for families and teachers; provides instructive webinars led by experts as well as peer-to-peer sessions led by students; personal consultations for parents; and professional development workshops for educators. Learning Ally’s collection of 82,000 human-narrated audio textbooks and literature titles can be downloaded by students using their smartphones and tablets, and is the largest of its kind in the world.
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Learning Ally is partially funded by grants from state and local education programs, and the generous contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information visit www.LearningAlly.org