NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship

Thanks to a generous contribution from NBCUniversal, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is proud to offer the NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship.

In 2017 the NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship will offer eight (8) scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities who are interested in pursuing a career in the communications, media, or entertainment industry. Each recipient will receive $5,625 to help cover the cost of education at their current college or university.

Apply for the 2017 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship

Applications due by June 19, 2017

Tony Coelho

Former Congressman Tony Coelho

This scholarship has been named in honor of Tony Coelho, a former United States Representative from California and the primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Coelho was elected to Congress in 1978 and served for six terms until 1989. During his terms, Coelho authored the original ADA, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. By 1994, the U.S. Census Bureau reported 800,000 more people with severe disabilities were employed than when the ADA was first enacted, in large part thanks to the work of Coelho, his successors, and predecessors.

From 1994 to 2001, after being appointed by President Bill Clinton, Coelho served as Chairman of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. He also worked as the Vice Chair of the National Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities. In 1998, Clinton appointed Coelho as the United States Commissioner General at the 1998 World Expo in Portugal. Clinton also appointed Coelho as Co-Chair to the U.S. Census Monitoring Board, a position he held until his appointment as general chairman of the Gore Presidential Campaign.

From June 2009 to June 2011, Coelho served as the Chairman of AAPD.


Scholarship Application Process


  • Applicants must be currently enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student and plan to be enrolled during the fall semester.
  • Self-identify as an individual with any type of disability.
  • Students must be interested in pursuing a career in the communications, media, or entertainment industry – all majors are welcome to apply.
  • While you do not need to be a US citizen to be eligible for this scholarship, you must currently be attending a college or university in the United States.

Please note: You will not be required to disclose your specific disability; however, your application for this scholarship will signify that you consider yourself a person with a disability. This scholarship is run specifically for students with disabilities by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

Applicants chosen to receive an NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship release all information contained in their application for use on the AAPD website and in public press releases, including releases to the program funders and potential employees.

Apply for the 2017 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship

Applications due by June 19, 2017

Please contact scholarship@aapd.com or 202-521-4316 with any questions or concerns.


2016 Scholarship Recipients

AAPD is proud to announce the recipients of the 2016 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship! In 2016, AAPD was able to offer eight (8) scholarships to second year associate students; undergraduate sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and graduate students with disabilities pursuing interests in the media, communications, or entertainment industries.


Nermina AlyNermina Aly Headshot
DePaul University

Nermina Aly is an undergraduate junior majoring in communication studies at DePaul University in Chicago. She is passionate about being able to take her knowledge of communication tactics and amplifying it towards causes that she believes must be given a voice. Nermina is a Deans Scholar who has been on the Deans list every quarter.



Ahilan AmirthanayagamAAPD 2016 Intern Ahilan Amirthanayagam
George Washington University

Ahilan Amirthanayagam is a student at the George Washington University majoring in Communication with a minor in Psychology. He was born in New York City but has spent most of his life abroad. Having lived in seven different countries (India, Ethiopia, US, Kenya, Singapore, Bolivia, and Barbados) and having had the opportunity to visit over 60, he is fascinated by different cultural groups and their interactions.



Kendra CuiKendra Cui Headshot
Wellesley College

Kendra Cui is a junior at Wellesley College pursuing a double degree in theatre studies and economics. She aspires to use her interdisciplinary education to establish a career as a producer and artistic director at a major New York City theatre. In doing so, she hopes to create a platform where disabled and underrepresented theatre makers are given opportunities both off and onstage to show their works to a national and international audience.



John DepaJohn Depa head shot
Emerson College

John Daniel Depa is from Chicago, IL and is entering his final year at Emerson College in Boston, MA. He studies Producing for Visual & Media Arts with a minor in Hearing & Deafness, and is a member of the college’s Honors Program, writing his first of two theses on the hidden impacts school choice programs have on youth with cognitive disabilities. At Emerson, Depa works as an Executive Producer for The Emerson Channel, worked as a Gala Co-Executive Producer on The EVVY Awards, and worked in partnership with WGBH Boston. He hopes to pursue a career in studio broadcast for television and web.



Jimmy KennedyJimmy Kennedy head shot
University of Indianapolis

James Blair Kennedy III (Jimmy) is a communications student enrolled at the University of Indianapolis (UIndy) from Indianapolis, Indiana. During his time at UIndy, Jimmy has been a staff member for both 88.7 WICR-FM HD1/HD2/HD3 Radio and UIndy TV5 on-campus. As part of WICR’s staff, he contributes to the sports department as a play-by-play commentator, color analyst, sideline reporter, and studio reporter for remote broadcasts. He has also been a television, radio, and public relations contributor for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts since 2009. Jimmy, who has Cerebral Palsy, has also been a public speaker for the non-profit organization Timmy Global Health since the age of five. Through his presentations to schools, businesses, and organizations, he attempts to promote an initiative of ability rather than disability. Following his anticipated graduation in May of 2017, Jimmy has ambitions of working in the communication field for a professional sports organization. For more information visit www.jimmykennedybroadcasting.com.



Evan MercerEvan Mercer head shot
Vanderbilt University

Evan Mercer, a junior at Vanderbilt University, is a Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholar double majoring in communications and neuroscience. Deaf since birth, Evan hopes to build upon his own experiences with having TV and radio shows at Vanderbilt to someday produce a TV show aimed at encouraging other deaf and hard of hearing students to pursue the sciences.



Nicole TayNermina Aly Headshot
Columbia University

Nicole Tay is a graduate of Wellesley College and is currently pursuing her MPH in social epidemiology at Columbia University. She is starting HealthFX, a comedic web-series about public health in hopes that her show will help promote social justice and health in the mainstream.



Erin TiffanyErin Tiffany head shot
Muhlenberg College

Erin is a senior at Muhlenberg College, double majoring in Theatre and Media Communications. On campus, she is the Show Choir’s Music Director and Vice President, the Office of Information Technology’s Resident Technician, Catholic Campus Ministry’s Public Relations Officer, and works as the Theatre Department’s Student Master Carpenter. In addition, she mentors her high school’s FIRST Robotics Team. Erin grew up in Blue Bell, PA, and is a proud member of the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).


2015 Scholarship Recipients

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