Kelsey Waldron Wins Learning Ally National Achievement Award

Denver resident, a freshman at Carleton College, proves dyslexia is not an obstacle to educational success

PRINCETON, NJ – Learning Ally, a 66-year-old nonprofit serving individuals with learning and visual disabilities, has bestowed its highest award to Kelsey Waldron of Denver, CO. Waldron is one of six students from across the U.S. who will receive cash awards and travel with their families to be honored at Learning Ally’s National Gala celebration in Washington, DC next April.

From the time Waldron started to learn to read, her family could tell she had dyslexia, a learning and reading disability shared by both her father and brother. As a young child growing up in a family of dyslexics, she was raised to consider her learning difference as a unique advantage. Her favorable perception of dyslexia was sorely tested, however, when she entered the second grade.

“The positive attitude I’d had toward my dyslexia vanished, leaving behind a bitter taste of struggle and failure,” she says. “When we were asked to read aloud in class, the words didn’t flow naturally from my lips like they did for the other kids. I would frantically try to memorize the words ahead of time in case the teacher would call on me to read.” For years as she struggled to overcome the challenges that reading presented, “it became obvious to me that I was not only different, but worse.”

A turning point came for Waldron when she began using human-narrated audiobooks from Learning Ally. Without having to agonize over the struggle to process every printed word, she was finally able to complete her reading assignments on time and participate fully in class discussions.

Now as a freshman at Carleton College, Waldron is looking at possibly majoring in international relations, but is keeping her options open. Meanwhile, her perception of dyslexia has come full circle. “I no longer view my dyslexia as something that holds me back, but rather as a strength,” she says. “It has forced me to approach my education with purpose, determination and grit – and now I know it will not prevent me from accomplishing my goals.”

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. Each award winner has a long list of honors and accomplishments, and has graduated with a GPA above 3.0, with most near the 4.0 mark. For information about applying for Learning Ally’s National Achievement awards, visit http://NAA.LearningAlly.org/apply.

About Learning Ally

Founded in 1948, Learning Ally helps K-12, college and graduate students, veterans and lifelong learners – all of whom read and learn differently due to blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia, or other learning disabilities. Through its support programs and audiobooks, Learning Ally enables families and teachers to help students thrive and succeed. The organization provides support to parents and students through events, webinars, personal consultations and other tools; and integrated learning management systems and professional development for teachers. In addition, Learning Ally’s collection of more than 80,000 human-narrated audio textbooks and literature titles can be downloaded on mainstream smartphones and tablets, and is the largest of its kind in the world. Several thousand volunteers help to produce the educational materials, which students rely on to achieve academic and professional success. 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 http://LearningAlly.org.


Contact: Doug Sprei
Learning Ally PR & Communications
dsprei@LearningAlly.org
(609) 243-5865