2017 Scholarship Recipients

AAPD is proud to announce the recipients of the 2017 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship! In 2017, 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.


Rasheera Dopson

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Rasheera Dopson, recipient of a 2017 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship

Syracuse University


Rasheera Dopson is an advocate and motivational speaker. Her degree in English literature is the foundation of her writing featured in publications such as Upscale Magazine, The Children’s Craniofacial Blog, The Mighty, and many more. Serving as an ambassador and spokesperson for children with facial differences, she volunteers at Atlanta Children’s Hospital and other non-profits. Her mission is to bring awareness and support for families affected by chronic illnesses and disabilities. In her network Beauty with a Twist she encourages young women and men to embrace their difference by building their self-esteem and confidence. In her spare time she enjoys blogging, watching movies, eating baked goods and most importantly, spending time with her beloved family and friends. Atlanta, Georgia is her home.




Shaina Ghuraya

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Shaina Ghuraya, recipient of a 2017 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship

University of Southern California


Shaina Ghuraya is a graduate student in the University of Southern California’s Master of Fine Arts program in Film and Television production. She aspires to continue her undergraduate work of including people of all types of disabilities in all types of production roles on and off camera. She also hopes to create a production company with the intention of seeking out stories and ideas of people with disabilities all around the country, and eventually the world. Having a mother from England and a father from India, Shaina is aware of the change in perceptions of disability across cultures, and wants to produce stories that show how gender, race, sexuality, origin, and economic status as well as ability all intersect to form unique experiences.




Thomas Heelis

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Thomas Heelis, recipient of a 2017 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship

California Institute of the Arts


Thomas James Heelis is from Vineyard, UT and is currently majoring in character animation at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA. Thomas actively produces animated films that promote compassion and visibility of those with disabilities, with a particular interest in Tourette’s syndrome and Autism spectrum awareness. A Lillian Disney scholar, Thomas hopes to utilize the cultural power of animation and film to introduce these and other important topics to a general audience and to promote a more positive narrative.




Frank Kane

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Frank Kane, recipient of a 2017 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship

Arizona State University


Born in New Jersey and raised in Denver, Frank Kane is a graduate of Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO with degrees in political science and English. Following a brief and formative stint as a Jesuit seminarian, Frank worked for a year in Denver as a communications specialist and freelance writer for local and national publications. Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy shortly after birth, Frank has gleaned greater understanding of the disabled experience through co-founding a Denver Metro Cerebral Palsy Group, and involvement with Children’s Hospital Colorado and nonprofit disability advocacy and handicapped sports organizations. He will soon begin graduate studies at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where he hopes to hone the skills necessary to begin a nationally syndicated radio show devoted to interviewing those with disabilities and their loved ones.




Amanda Morris

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Amanda Morris, recipient of a 2017 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship

New York University


Amanda is a student at New York University double majoring in Journalism and Media, Culture and Communications. With a passion for telling stories, talking with people, and enacting change, she hopes to become an international correspondent and focus on reporting human rights issues, including those that affect the disabled community. As someone with a hearing loss, her dream is to represent the Deaf community in a major media outlet, foster inclusion, and inspire others with disabilities to pursue their goals. Amanda has worked numerous internships within the journalism field and currently works as an Assistant News Editor for her college radio station WNYU 89.1 F.M.




D’Arcee Neal

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D’Arcee Neal, recipient of a 2017 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship

University of Maryland, College Park


D’Arcee Charington Neal is a 31 year old writer from Cary, North Carolina with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, who was recently accepted to start this Fall at the University of Maryland at College Park for his MA in Composition and Rhetoric. With his BA in English and a previous MA in Creative and Professional Writing from London England, he’s worked for a variety of organizations from NASA and United Cerebral Palsy, currently serving as a writer/editor for the Secretary of the Interior after being named to The Advocate Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2015 for his work with disability, LGBT issues and intersectionality. He is thrilled to receive the 2017 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship and will use it in his future career as a screenwriter to help create an electronic archive for people of color with disabilities to tell their stories through art, poetry, narratives, and interviews to highlight visibility in underrepresented communities as part of his Masters’ thesis.




Jillian Noyes
Connecticut College

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Jillian Noyes, recipient of a 2017 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship


Jillian Noyes is an undergraduate junior majoring in Film Studies and minoring in Philosophy at Connecticut College. Her passion lies in creating works which incorporate wit, eccentricity, philosophy, excitement, and intersectional experiences oft-ignored by mainstream media. An avid writer, artist, and card-carrying nerd, Jillian is active in several advocacy groups on campus and uses her talents to shatter the stigma which so often plagues the mentally ill and autistic communities.




Adreenah Wynn

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Dreezy Wynn, recipient of a 2017 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship

Florida State University


I’m Adreenah but everyone calls me Dreezy. I am a graphic designer, female, African American, thriving with a blood disorder called Sickle Cell Disease, anxiety, and depression. My hometown is Apalachicola, Florida which is a rural community. I graduated from the University of Florida with a dual degree in Graphic Design and Art+Technology, minor in Sociology, and I will be finishing up my Arts in Medicine Certificate this summer also at UF. I use design as a catalyst to initiate real conversation, amongst real people, about real issues. Much of my work has a social justice theme. My top medium would be video and digital media. You can check out my work at www.adreenah.com For my Arts in Healthcare certificate, I volunteer and facilitate art and story-telling workshops in UF Health Shands Hospital, juvenile detention centers, and within the community including schools. This Fall I will be starting the Masters in Art Therapy program at Florida State University which has a social justice theme.


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