2019 Scholarship Recipients
AAPD is proud to announce the recipients of the 2019 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship! In 2019, 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.
University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts
Ryan Harman grew up in rural northern Idaho. He is currently working towards his MFA in film. He has a BA in architecture from Columbia University and worked in contemporary art before resuming his education. Following graduation, he aspires to work as a writer and director for film and television.
Pikes Peak Community College
I’m a 20-year-old college student working towards a BFA in Illustration, specifically to be a concept artist for video games, animation, and a comic creator. I’m incredibly passionate about storytelling, but I have always noticed the lack of not only minority representation, but positive minority rep. As a member of several minority groups, including being adopted, African-American, and disabled, I’m well accustomed to my disabilities and other factors being used as token characters, simply to check a box for “diversity.” It was disappointing, so I figured if it wasn’t happening the way I wanted, then I might as well do it myself. My goal is to be a force for representing disabilities in creative media as something other than negative or just an inconvenience. I hope for others to look to my work and not only be able to relate to the characters, but to see the potential to go beyond and be more than their disabilities. We all deserve to have the characters we resonate with be so much more than just a label. There’s no reason to settle when it comes to representation.
University of Hawaii at Manoa
From a young age, I was attracted to the field of communications and media. The seldom presence of people with disabilities in the media angered and bothered me, and my dissatisfaction gradually evolved into a dream of becoming a media personality. I was grateful when I received the opportunity to become a radio talk show host at BFM 91.2 in Biratnagar, Nepal. I held that position for two and a half years, making me the first blind person in my hometown to take on that role. I am currently a PhD student in the field of communication and information sciences at the University of Hawaii where I study media accessibility and audio description. I investigate the emerging field of audio description, and how it is capacitating the formation of new social networks. It is my hope that my research will increase the participation of individuals with disabilities (as knowledge producers and consumers) in the fields of media and communication, and change the nature of audio description worldwide.
Madison Area Technical College
Tara Olivia Martens is a Communications undergraduate with a minor in Global Studies. Martens is a non-traditional return student who has accepted the challenges of higher education and is passionate for the expression of writing, singing jazz standards, thinking outside the box, and traveling on every available opportunity. In her free time, she writes as a journalist and photojournalism. Martens opened her first photo gallery of post-field research expeditions that took place while she was in Africa in 2015. Advocating for herself and others has been of deep importance in her life and receiving a higher education, she believes, plays a crucial role in helping the community.
John Carroll University
Natalia Pozuelo-Arbide, a Spaniard-American, is a 21-year-old studying Integrated Marketing Communication & Spanish Studies at John Carroll University, with the goal of a minor in Political Science as well. Natalia is the 2019-2020 Vice President of JCU’s collegiate chapter of the American Marketing Association. During the summer of 2019 as a Cleveland Clinic marketing communication intern, Natalia developed a strong passion for effective communication within the healthcare field. She also enjoys photography and campaign tactics in the fashion industry, promoting positive messages that include the disabled community. She is a member of the Business of Fashion, as she enjoys learning the latest global marketing communication trends. Natalia is on track to graduate May of 2021.
New England Conservatory of Music
Matthew Shifrin is a singer, accordionist, and composer. He studies singing and accordion at the New England Conservatory of Music. He recently had his acting debut as a blind subway musician in Mark Turtletaub’s “Puzzle” with Kelly McDonald, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is available for streaming on Amazon. Matthew loves helping blind people enjoy previously inaccessible forms of entertainment. He and a friend created a system of text-based instructions which let blind people build Lego sets independently. The system has been featured in Popular Science, MentalFloss, Time for Kids, Msn, Aol, and on YouTube, where PBS’s Documentary “How Lego Helps Blind People See” has received over 85000 views. He’s now collaborating with Lego to generate text-based instructions using artificial intelligence.
With an engineer from the MIT Media Lab, Matthew started Project Daredevil, a start-up which creates virtual-reality comics for the blind using 3D sound, and a motion simulating helmet, which affects the vestibular system, simulating motions such as flipping and flying. Matthew’s TED talk on creativity and accessibility is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ls6JdUdogLQ.
George Washington University
Nikita Sibley is a 24-year-old Media and Strategic Communications Masters student at George Washington University, who received his Bachelors of Science in Political Science at Florida State University, and is honored to be one of the eight recipients of the prestigious NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship. His past political experience includes volunteering on various presidential campaigns, interning for the state party, interning for the minority leader for Florida’s the House of Representatives, as well as being a regional field director for a congressional campaign and a press assistant for a gubernatorial campaign. Nikita believes in the ability of good government to play a positive role in the promotion of social justice. Due to this deep-held belief, he is now transitioning towards a career in political communications. Being a part of the disability community himself, by way of a traumatic brain injury suffered during his freshman year of college, Nikita truly believes much good can be done by strengthening the bridge between the disability community and the public sector, as well as the importance/value of much-needed representation, especially from those in the disabled community.
Loyola Marymount University
Born and raised just outside of Hartford, Connecticut, Lindsay Varney is a pure New Englander at heart despite her current residency in Los Angeles, California where she is completing her degree as a double major in Film & Television Production and Screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University. Passionate about entertainment in a variety of ways, Lindsay is a current intern at Live Nation Entertainment where she works on the creative production team, writing and producing video content for music artists such as Blink-182, Beck, Cage the Elephant, Wiz Khalifa, The Struts, Spoon, and many more. Knowing writing is her ultimate career goal, Lindsay has also taken advantage of numerous other writing opportunities like interning for the late-night television show CONAN and writing music blogs and reviews published on Live Nation’s own setlist.fm website. Inspired by her own heroes in both the entertainment and disability community such as Michael J Fox, Lindsay has worked closely with the MDA and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Most recently taking part in the conceptualization of the new children’s dialysis and infusion center in Connecticut, Lindsay hopes to use what she’s learned as a patient and advocate to one day create her own foundation dedicated to helping people with rare genetic disorders. She is absolutely elated and grateful to be one of the recipients of the 2019 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship and will use it to further her education in a field that has the power to create change even by the simplest tweaks in dialog both on and off the page.