New York undergrad 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 Skye Malik of New York City. Skye 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.
Skye is a freshman at State University of New York Cortland, pursuing early childhood education with the goal of becoming a special education teacher. She calls herself “a proud dyslexic with reading fluency in the fourth percentile.” She is also a Black Belt in taekwondo, on her way toward attaining the fourth degree title of “Master.”
Skye is well known to Learning Ally’s community as the creator of “The Paco Project,” a fundraising initiative named after her grandfather who wasn't diagnosed with dyslexia until the age of 80. "My grandfather Paco grew up in the 1930s and 40s and he always had difficulty reading," she explains. "He didn't tell his family, he didn't tell anyone that he had difficulty reading until he was 80 years old. He kept that secret for so long, and grew up thinking that he was stupid.
Skye and her mother came up with the idea of the Paco Project in honor of her grandfather, to raise funds for Learning Ally and help kids in New York City. "We made a video with Paco in it, sent it out to everyone we know, and the donations poured in, raising $25,000.
“Learning Ally literally changed my life," Skye continues. "In class, I didn’t have to worry about trying to keep up with the conversation, but became one of the first students to answer a question. I felt capable and empowered. Now as an Early Childhood Childhood Education major, I love working with little kids and I want to be that first teacher -- one of those first teachers that you remember for the rest of your life."
View a video profile of Skye Malik
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