The Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living is proud to award its 2012 John Weir Academic Scholarship to five outstanding high school students. These five students have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and leadership in their communities.
Adam Rose has been chosen as our multi-year scholarship winner. This will give him the opportunity to receive support for all four years that he attends Kettering University. Adam lives his life with a spinal cord injury and uses a wheelchair to navigate the world. Adam attends Henry Ford II and is an accomplished hand cyclist. He has won first place in the Detroit Marathon and has a long-term hand-cycling dream to make the 2016 Paralympic hand-cycling team. Over the years has raised over $7000 for Disability Network Michigan. He has a strong background and interest in engineering, and built an underwater submarine, which was entered into a statewide competition. He plans to follow his father’s footsteps and pursue a career in mechanical or civil engineering. He then plans to attend law school to become a patent attorney. Adam attributes his ability to appreciate everything he has in life to his disability.
Jennifer Kohler is an ambitious student at Saline High School who already has six college credits completed by participating in a series of classes that are geared for students interested in health sciences. In order to be accepted into this program, Jennifer had to apply to the program very much a like an employment opportunity. Only a limited number of students are accepted into this program each year. In addition to the challenges each student must face with applying to this program, Jennifer had the added challenge of overcoming her learning disability. She is very grateful to be a part of this program, as she looks at it as a stepping stone to her career. In her free time, Jennifer is involved in 4-H Farmers, and has won various awards in baking, photography, and showing animals. Her volunteerism with senior citizens in their homes and at nursing homes has prepared her for her future. She looks forward to attending Ferris State University in the fall and pursuing a career in dental hygiene or radiology. Jennifer is always looking for ways to improve, and makes a point to ask what she can do to do so. This has been her way to empower herself living with a disability.
Colin Northrup is a student with cerebral palsy at Dexter High School who displays a tremendous amount of community involvement, including caring for and showing llamas in 4-H, raising money and serving as a motivational speaker for the University of Michigan’s Dance Marathon, and playing adaptive wheelchair hockey (as a goalie). He attributes his success as a hockey player to the mentorship of the older players on his team. He has been involved since he was eleven years old. He has learned the importance of mentorship and what it can bring to someone’s life. Colin has exceptional communication skills and has a goal of pursuing a sports broadcasting career. He plans to start out at Washtenaw Community College and transfer to Eastern Michigan University or Spring Arbor University. About life with a disability, Colin says: “My life with a disability has shaped me as a person in the most positive of ways. I’m more empathetic, and I don’t complain about little things. I’ve had the opportunity to see the world in a different light, so for that I am thankful.”
Gia Smith is a student at Ann Arbor Technological High School. She is proud to be graduating from school because school has not been easy. She was able to overcome many challenges related to her learning disabilities thanks to the support of Ann Arbor Technological High School. As she states, “I was finally…able to learn how to learn!” During high school, she became very involved in afterschool activities and community service, such as choir, the Youth Advisory Council, and the Young Entrepreneurs Club. She was also accepted into the Positive Peer Influence community service group at her high school. This involved two semesters of training and service. She learned how to be a peer mediator and helped her peers settle conflicts through positive communication. Gia wants to attend Washtenaw Community College and pursue a career as a labor and delivery nurse to support herself and her young son independently. Gia has overcome a lot in her young years, but is determined to achieve her goals and overcome any more “bumps in the road”.
Gabrielle Williams is a student at Ypsilanti High School. She says that living with her learning disability is a true gift. She is a true leader, both at home and in the community. She has taken college prep classes and has volunteered with community service projects as a student involved in National Honors Society. She has been involved in Eastern Michigan University’s GEAR-UP program (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), which is designed to prepare high school students for achieving an undergraduate degree. In her free time, she loves to sing and play softball. She wants to pursue a career in Psychology and create a center for young mothers and teen girls in honor of her late sister. In the fall, she plans to attend Western Michigan University. Gabrielle says that “the main thing I want to continue doing when I get older is to teach people to love who they are and don’t try to change yourself, but try to better yourself.”