DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. -- Inspired by the work ethic of her parents and the guidance of her teachers, Mercy College senior Amanie Riley has been awarded the Lighthouse International Scholarship, which recognizes outstanding students who have overcome the challenges of vision loss.
“I am honored and very humbled by this recognition," Riley said. "It goes to show you that hard work pays off. I want people to know that despite my visual impairment, I can do anything as long as I put my mind to it.”
Riley, who is pursuing a degree in psychology and education, won the Lighthouse International Scholarship award for $10,000. The award is given to seven students each year who are blind or visually impaired. This year 60 students applied.
Riley said she had the support of her parents and teachers as well as technical support that helped her complete assignments and exams.
"I used the BrailleNote Apex, the Victor Reader Stream, Kurzweil scanning software, and the screen reading software known as Jaws," Riley said. "The BrailleNote Apex is a portable electronic device that is used to write and read braille, take notes, and complete assignments."
Her educational aids included a word processor, recorder, calendar, scientific calculator, audio book reader, Internet connection, and have the capability to connect to the computer or printer. The Victor Reader Stream is a hand-held device in which a visually impaired person can download and listen to audio books as well as record voice memos.
The Kurzweil scanning software reads documents such as books or homework assignments after they have been scanned into the computer.
"For example, if I place a piece of paper onto the scanner, the Kurzweil software will read the document that has been scanned," Riley said. "Jaws is a screen reading software that reads text on the computer screen such as documents, emails, and web pages."
Riley's career goal is to become certified in teaching students who are blind or visually impaired. After graduating with her bachelor's degree in psychology and education, she will be enrolled in the master's degree program at Mercy to work toward the tri-certificate which specializes in early childhood, birth through grade 2), childhood (grades 1 through 6) and students with disabilities. After receiving those certifications Riley will attend one of the three schools in New York that offer the teacher of the blind and visual impaired certification.
"My overall goal is to teach students how to read, write braille, and use some of the accessible technology that (helped her through her education)," Riley said.
Her success as a student is a predictor of her success in a career as a teacher and confirms her family's support.
"Both my parents are great role models, because they are supportive, hardworking, and always encouraged me to pursue an education," Riley said. "I was also inspired by teachers that taught me math and technology in high school, because they were visually impaired. These teachers inspired me to follow in their foot steps. I believe that every visual impaired student deserves the opportunity to gain braille literacy and use assistive technology."