For Immediate Release: September 3, 2020
Contact: Christine Liao, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, DC – The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2020 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship. The NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Scholarship, named for a former United States Representative from California and the primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act, are made possible by the generous support from NBCUniversal. Maria Town, President & CEO for AAPD, stated: “AAPD is grateful to NBCUniversal for the opportunity for us to support these talented and diverse students with disabilities as they pursue their degrees and advance disability representation in media, entertainment, and communications. Each of this year’s recipients is already engaged in fantastic work through filmmaking, performance, design, and more. We hope this scholarship will bolster opportunities for the Tony Coelho Media Scholarship recipients to advance their knowledge, skills, and careers.”
The scholarship program provides support to undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities who are interested in pursuing a career in the communications, media, or entertainment industries. “At NBCU, we are committed to cultivating diversity, equity and inclusion throughout our workforce, programming and philanthropy,” said Craig Robinson, Executive Vice President, Chief Diversity for NBCUniversal. “We’re proud to continue our partnership with AAPD in supporting talented emerging voices of varied perspectives and experiences.
This upcoming year, AAPD and NBCUniversal will work in partnership to provide opportunities, resources, and engagement with the selected recipients. Each recipient from the 2020 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship was awarded for their outstanding and innovative studies in media related fields. Recipients were chosen on the basis of their commitment to stronger disability representation across media industries. Award recipients received $5,625 each to help cover the cost of education at their current college or university. Please join us in congratulating the eight (8) recipients for the 2020 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship!
The 2020 scholarship recipients are highlighted below:
Full Sail University
Sianna Eldert is 17 years old and is attending Full Sail University this fall. She will be working towards a Bachelor’s of Science in Media Communications. When Sianna was 12, she became sick with a cluster of illnesses, most of which fall under the disability Dysautonomia. Those chronic illnesses include: Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Fibromyalgia, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). Sianna is a hard worker and is very involved in Scouting BSA, and currently an Eagle Scout Candidate working on a project that will help raise awareness about Dysautonomia.
The University of New Orleans
Ashlyn Guidry is an aspiring filmmaker who wants to make films that represent the marginalized communities. She attends the University of New Orleans where she is pursuing her Masters in Fine Arts in Film Production. As someone with a disability and as a black woman in America, she wants to share her stories on the big screen and through streaming. She wants to create stories that people with disabilities can identify with.
AMDA College of the Performing Arts
Cassidy Huff is an eighteen-year-old singer-songwriter and actress from Seattle, Washington. Cassidy has performed on stages all over the world including the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and Lincoln Center in New York City. Cassidy is honored to receive this scholarship and be able to put it towards her education at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, a conservatory for the performing arts in Los Angeles, where she will be pursuing her BFA in Musical Theater! Cassidy would like to thank everyone at NBCUniversal for giving her this phenomenal opportunity!
Kristin Kumagawa is a rising sophomore at Chapman University and hopes to graduate as a double major in Communication and Public Relations and Advertising. She was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in 2014, which has caused her to make more conscious choices to live life with as few regrets as possible. Having just finished her first year in college alongside her service dog, Mailie, she is incredibly grateful to be able to pursue a career in a field with so many possibilities. She has loved being able to work on films, study media and social sciences, and meet people with similar interests.
Raised in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Barbara grew up in a household where every Sunday her dad would make her read the paper and her mom would instill the importance of speaking up against injustices and ill-treatment. From a very young age, she was drawn to politics and advocacy, which in turn made her volunteer for a local representative’s campaign at the age of twelve. Since then, she has been active in politics and media by being part of a student-run publication and several national and federal campaigns. Throughout her experiences and her daily life, she spends time educating people about “invisible” illnesses and disabilities. She considers each of these interactions as a way of moving forward how society treats disabled people. Her goal in the future is to obtain direct experience in media where she can showcase various disabilities in an accurate and positive light.
Tyler Schulze is a 22-year-old undergraduate student majoring in Film Production and Content Development with a focus on Screenwriting. He has worked on film projects as an intern during his summers and enjoys creating shorts during his free time. Tyler has a passion for storytelling and has put together writing teams for working on film and television scripts. He enjoys having a “front seat” for the whole process of bringing a project to life through the magic of scriptwriting, cinematography, editing, directing, and production. For him, working on these projects never feels like work but instead feels like a privilege. By earning his degree in Film Production and Content Development Tyler wants to be the example that shows others that you can rise above the challenges life gives you and find your own way through to your dreams no matter what roadblocks may be in your way. It is his hope that this degree will provide him with a bigger platform that he can use to promote this message and encourage others to go for their dreams!
Northern Illinois University
Andrew “Ondrew” Tillotson (they/he) is an aspiring data scientist, political organizer, and activist dedicated to fighting socioeconomic and environmental injustice. A recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus, they had the honor of serving as the President and first-ever Advocacy Coordinator at the Disabled Student Cultural Center, where they remain a proud advisor. Whether in Minneapolis or in their hometown of DeKalb, IL, he has been proud to help hundreds of students as a mentor and tutor by work at the YMCA, TRIO Upward Bound, and through his tutoring service. He is excited to start working towards a degree in Data Science this fall, and they aim to learn how to use this skillset as a policy analyst, campaign manager, or major contributor to a political advocacy group. In his free time, he writes poetry, makes music under the aliases ondrew, sangfroids, and joculatrix, make digital art, and enjoys relaxing outside.
University of Washington
Jessie Zhang is a d/Deaf and hard of hearing second generation Chinese American woman (she/her). Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Jessie attended the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle, WA to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Informatics and a minor in Diversity. During her time in college, Jessie advocated for d/Deaf and disabled students, and studied abroad in London and Seoul. Jessie is returning to the UW to pursue her Master of Science in Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE). She hopes to work in the media, entertainment, and communications industry as a researcher, designer, or storyteller who shares stories that reflect authentic human experiences. In her free time, she enjoys watching animated films, traveling, and trying new recipes. The last thing she made was Hawaiian butter mochi muffins.
* * *
AAPD is a convener, connecter, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As one of the leading national cross-disability civil rights organizations, AAPD advocates for the full recognition of rights for the over 60 million Americans with disabilities. AAPD’s programs and initiatives have been effective in mobilizing the disability community through communications advocacy; cultivating and training new and emerging leaders with disabilities through leadership development programs; increasing the political participation of Americans with disabilities and elevating the power of the disability vote through the REV UP (Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power!) Campaign; and advancing disability inclusion in the workplace through the Disability Equality Index (DEI) — the nation’s leading corporate benchmarking tool for disability equality and inclusion. To learn more about AAPD, visit www.aapd.com.