2023 Scholarship Recipients
AAPD is proud to announce the recipients of the 2023 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship! In 2023, AAPD was able to offer eight (8) NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarships to second year associate students; undergraduate sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and graduate students with disabilities pursuing communications or media-related degrees thanks to the generous support of NBCUniversal.
Cristina Arellano Chiroque
Cristina is an aspiring Product Designer, and Higher Education advocate passionate about storytelling. She graduated from Tufts University, located in Medford, MA, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Factors Engineering, a mix of engineering and psychology. She was born in Arequipa, Peru, grew up in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, and traveled throughout the Northeast for most of her young adulthood. She believes a more inclusive and equitable workforce is necessary to provide a diversity of thought. Her goal is to create a more accessible and inclusive landscape within media that represent people with disabilities, including invisible disabilities. As someone with an invisible disability, she wants to encourage others to take charge of their own stories that help reduce the stigma around mental health. She considers herself a mental health and inclusion advocate.
Taiwo Adebowale is a rising freshman who will attend Howard University this fall. Under the Cathy Hughes School of Communications, she is pursuing an education in strategic communications on the advertising track. Throughout high school, she studied literary arts at Carver Center for Arts and Technology, where she developed her voice as a writer and grew interest in various kinds of media. She has been recognized for her work, being one of the sixteen Scholastics Art and Writing Gold Portfolio recipients of 2023. After college, Taiwo plans on using her degree to advocate for more authentic representations of marginalized groups in media and eliminate pervasive the stereotypes within it.
Melina List is an undergraduate interdisciplinary studies major at Emerson College. Within the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, they study community building and storytelling, with a minor in Health and Society. At Emerson, they are the Co-President for Advocacy at Access: Student Disability Union, and the Editor in Chief of Generic Literary Magazine. Born and raised in the greater Boston area, List is a passionate writer, reader, artist, gardener, and friend.
University of South Florida
Gabrielle is a junior at the University of South Florida, studying humanities and cultural studies, film and new media studies, and political science. She is also a student researcher who focuses on the socio-political context of popular media products. Gabrielle aspires to be a screenwriter and creative producer whose work focuses on using research and academic theories to inspire narratives which actively counteract negative stereotypes surrounding marginalized groups. She hopes to shed light on the complexities in the existence and experiences of minorities, including the BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and disabled communities. She also plans to pursue further education in entertainment law and business with the intent of one day founding her own entertainment media company.
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Devon is a student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona with a passion for technology. He aspires to integrate engineering solutions to make filming sets and equipment more accessible. Devon is interested in research around design and customized modifications, such as adjustable camera mounts, adaptive lighting systems, and inclusive sound equipment, to ensure that individuals with mobility, sensory, or visual disabilities could actively participate in the production process. He believes these innovations not only empower individuals with disabilities but also create an inclusive environment that fosters their creative contributions. By providing technical expertise and insights, Devon aims to promote accurate portrayals and challenge stereotypes by collaborating with casting directors, producers, and writers to ensure authentic representation of individuals with disabilities on screen. This can include utilizing AI-based facial recognition technologies to improve casting processes and ensure fair and inclusive representation of individuals with disabilities. This involves collaborating with casting directors, producers, and writers to ensure authentic representation of individuals with disabilities on screen.
Fennik is a film production student at Hofstra University, looking towards a future in production management or art direction. In addition to being a student, they are a freelance visual and performing artist who works in just about every medium they can get their hands on and loves working with clients and other artists to bring creative ideas to life. Fennik has a passion for storytelling and hopes to use it as a way of furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion both in their personal life and in their work. Their experience as a queer and trans person with several chronic illnesses has made them a resilient disability and LGBTQ+ rights activist, and proud mobility aid user. In their free time Fennik is an avid reader, an RPG enthusiast, and a dog lover. They are grateful to receive this scholarship to support their education, and look forward to continued collaboration and creation in the coming years of their degree program.
University of Arkansas-Fayetteville
Kadesha (she/her) is a third-year Public Policy Ph.D. student at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville. As a doctoral student born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas, Kadesha moved to the United States in 2014 to pursue higher education studies. Her circuitous journey navigating the landscape of higher ed accommodations, combined with her previous work as an assistant Test Center manager for students with disabilities, coalesced to spark her interest in policy studies. Kadesha is currently pursuing the Social Justice track of her program, and she researches critical disability studies, students with disabilities, and access to higher education. Kadesha has a growing interest in global disability studies and exploring the use of podcasting to experiment with how researchers can lean on public media tools to bring marginalized voices into traditionally exclusionary spaces. Her career goals involve working with think tanks to explore accessible and participatory ways to bring people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups into policymaking spaces while engaging them on important issues and empowering them with agency to foster an active citizenry. She is honored to receive this prestigious award and thankful to NBC Universal & the Tony Coelho Media Scholarship Committee for supporting her studies.
Ruby Lee is a filmmaker, photographer, and community organizer born and raised in Rainier Beach, Seattle. As a kid, she was introduced to grassroots artists and activists working to foster creative leadership in the community’s youth. Through free arts education programming in Seattle, Ruby explored realms of her identity at wonderful non-profit organizations like Youth In Focus, Rain City Rock Camp, The Vera Project, NFFTY, and more. Access to free arts education was vital to who she is as an artist today, and she believes in the unity between creative expression and social justice. As Ruby heads to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, she strives to create work she wishes she could have seen in her developmental years as a queer, BIPOC, neurodivergent woman. Ruby is passionate about advocating for the amplification of diverse youth voices and accessibility to art expression for all young people.