Past National Achievements Awards Winners

52nd Annual National Achievement Award: 2011 Winners

Learning Through Listening® (LTL) Awards for Learning Ally Members with a Learning Disability

Top Winners receiving $6,000 award:

Margaret Perry photo

Margaret Perry

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

Education Path: Graduated from St. Paul’s School for Girls; attending Duke University in North Carolina

Interest: Public Policy | Art

“School has always been a challenging journey for me and Learning Ally has become my greatest tool in helping me to persevere.”

Grey Pilant

Grey Pilant

Hometown: Fort Myers, Florida

Education Path: Graduated from Cypress Lake High School with dual enrollment at Florida Gulf Coast University; attending University of Miami

Interest: Pre-med | Biochemistry

“Learning Ally has played a huge role in my life by providing me with hope and a solution when I desperately needed one.”

Carson Wigley

Carson Wigley

Hometown: Salisbury, Maryland

Education Path: Graduated from Worcester Preparatory School; attending Wake Forest University in North Carolina

Interest: Health | Exercise Science

“Learning Ally has enabled me to achieve my academic accomplishments in high school, and it will be the first thing I pack in my suitcase for Wake Forest University.”

Special Honors Winners receiving $2,000 award:

Mike Boland

Hometown: Redwood City, CA

Education Path: Graduated from Junipero Serra High School; attending Rhode Island School of Design

Interest: Graphic Design

“If it weren’t for Learning Ally, I would not have been as successful in school or had the time to participate in the many community service projects that I have had the opportunity to learn from.”


Heidi Henderson

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Education Path: Graduated from Central Catholic High School; attending University of Puget Sound in Washington

Interest: Biology | Chemistry

“People need to understand that the difficulty of dyslexia is not due to lack of intelligence or effort. It is, rather, the need for different teaching methods and learning environments now technologically available thanks to Learning Ally.”

Justin Lowe

Hometown: Christiana, Tennessee

Education Path: Graduated from The Webb School; attending Middle Tennessee State University

Interest: Science

“I am living proof that learning through listening transforms lives. I use every opportunity to share Learning Ally with struggling students.”

Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Awards (SAA) for Learning Ally Members who are Blind or Visually Impaired

Top Winners receiving $6,000 award:

Ashley Brow

Ashley Brow

Hometown: Mashpee, Massachusetts

Education Path: Graduated from Emerson College in Boston; obtaining graduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Emerson College

Degree: B.S. in Communication Disorders with a minor in Psychology

“With the help of Learning Ally I have had access to textbooks in a variety of fields that would otherwise not have been available to me.”

Steph Fernandes

Steph Fernandes

Hometown: Steubenville, Ohio

Education Path: Graduated from Boston College; summer 2011 internship at the American Association of People with Disabilities in DC; attending Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University

Degree: B.A. in Communications with a minor in Philosophy

“I believe access is the biggest obstacle facing students with disabilities, and Learning Ally actively serves to bring accessiblility to students who are unable to read print effectively.”

Hoby Wedler

Henry (Hoby) Wedler

Hometown: Davis, California

Education Path: Graduated from University of California Davis; obtaining graduate degree in Organic Chemistry from University of California Davis

Degree: B.S. in Chemistry and History with a minor in Mathematics

“Learning Ally made me much more independent by having the chemistry books I needed with excellent descriptions of figures. These descriptions are a remarkable resource for people who are blind.”

Special Honors Winners receiving $3,000 award:

Alicia Betancourt

Hometown: Daytona Beach, Florida

Education Path: Graduated from University of Central Florida

Degree: Master’s Degree in Social Work

“Being able to have textbooks and literature available that is both accessible and easy to use provides me with the freedom of choice.”

Courtney Tabor

Hometown: Saco, Maine

Education Path: Graduated from University of New England in Maine

Degree: Master’s Degree in Social Work

“I love being able to find books not only on the subject matter I need, but in formats that stay technologically current.”

Isaiah Wilcox

Hometown: Marietta, Georgia

Education Path: Graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta; summer 2011 internship at Dept. of Defense; plans to attend graduate school and obtain a degree in Information Systems

Degree: B.A. in Business Administration

“After graduation I intend on utilizing Learning Ally to access books and materials to aid me in the progression of my career.”

Honors Winners receiving $1,000 award:

Casey Burkhardt

Hometown: Toms River, New Jersey

Education Path: Graduated from Villanova University in Pennsylvania; summer 2011 internship at Google in California; obtaining Master’s Degree in Computer Science from Villanova University

Degree: B.S. in Computer Science

“Access to my textbooks and other reading materials from Learning Ally allowed me to stay on target with my fellow students.”

Sara Minkara

Hometown: Hingham, Massachusetts

Education Path: Graduated from Wellesley College in Massachusetts

Degree: B.A. in Mathematics and Economics
Founder of Empowerment Through Integration (ETI)

“Once I lost my vision, I grieved at the thought of being denied access. Thankfully, Learning Ally provided me with a library stocked with novels and textbooks.”

Shannon Marie Russell

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Education Path: Graduated from Portland State University; obtaining graduate degree in Bilingual Special Education from Portland State University

Degree: B.A. in Science and Spanish with a minor in Education

“As a future teacher, I understand that Learning Ally provides another modality for access to information that would otherwise not be accessible.”