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Congratulations to the Milton Scholarship Recipients

Each year, Guiding Eyes awards the Arthur Milton Scholarship in honor of the late Arthur Milton, a well-known insurance executive, consumerist, author, and consultant. A $5,000 scholarship is awarded to outstanding graduates of Guiding Eyes for the Blind to assist each individual’s pursuit of higher education.

When the Scholarship was founded and first awarded in 2000, Arthur Milton commented: “I selected Guiding Eyes for this special gift because the courage of their students in choosing a guide dog, to open up new horizons for themselves, made a deep impact upon me.”

Having a guide dog took my independence, responsibility, and confidence to a different level.

Graduate Osman Koroma

Grand Canyon University

Graduate Osman Koroma & His Guide Dog, Yellow Lab Gadget
Osman & Gadget

Osman Koroma graduated from Guiding Eyes for the Blind in March 2018 with his second guide dog, Gadget, a male yellow Labrador. Currently studying to earn his Bachelor of Arts in English for Secondary Education, Osman plans to pursue a Master’s degree as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI).  He says: “I feel like it is my responsibility to help blind youth change their own attitudes and understanding about blindness. I know that proper philosophy and training at an early age, will be much more likely to become successful adults.”

Osman’s interest in this career path stems from his own childhood: “Growing up as a blind child in refugee camps, I never had the means to develop the skills to be a successful citizen in my community. I lived in over 10 refugee camps in two countries, Sierra Leone and Guinea. I attended school in the camps, however, I couldn’t read or write for myself because of my vision and I didn’t have the resources to develop my Orientation and Mobility skills. I had to gain all of these skills when I moved to the United States at the age of 15, and I do not want any blind youth to be left behind. I want them to… resources at an early age so that they can have an impact on the community.”

Using the Milton Scholarship to help him pursue his career, Osman hopes to one day teach people who are visually impaired how guide dogs can do more than help people travel independently, but also teach “unconditional love, loyalty, friendship, responsibility. I want my students to be very independent, responsible, and confident and will show them that having a guide dog took my independence, responsibility, and confidence to a different level; levels that I never expected and that I am very thankful for.” 

Every challenge is an opportunity in disguise.

Graduate Melissa Carney

Mount Holyoke College

Graduate Melissa Carney & Her Guide Dog, Yellow Lab Aron
Melissa & Aron

Melissa Carney graduated from Guiding Eyes for the Blind with her guide dog Aron in May 2016. Currently, she is pursuing Bachelor’s degrees in English and Psychology, and she plans to follow with a PHD in Clinical or Social Psychology. Her goal is to counsel patients and their loved ones who have been affected by life-threatening illnesses.

Speaking of her personal experience after being diagnosed with retinoblastoma, she says: “Society tends to focus solely on curing and eradicating diseases and does not consider the harsh impacts on the patients’ emotional and psychological well-being.” Melissa’s aspirations don’t end there, as she is also interested in applying her strong background in disability advocacy to address “the flaws in the mental health system, or examining and treating the mental health of people with disabilities through therapeutic techniques.”

Melissa explains that her guide dog has had a powerful impact on her educational and career goals. “On any given day, we travel to class, traverse winding sidewalks, fly around obstacles without missing a beat, locate a single classroom among identical closed doors, and hop onto public transportation… He is an extremely intelligent and dedicated worker. His never-ending trust in me gives me faith and greater confidence in my own skills. We share the same drive, in that every challenge is an opportunity in disguise.”

Being blind is not an impotence that cripples your ability to reach your dreams, but merely an obstacle along the way.

Graduate Joseph Chica

University of Miami

Graduate Joey Chica & His Guide Dog, Black Lab Gunner
Joey & Gunner

Graduate Joey Chica, who graduated from Guiding Eyes with his black Labrador Gunner in the class of June 2015, hopes to serve as an inspiration for other people who are blind through the pursuit of his own career goals. Currently finishing his second year at the University of Miami, Joey is fast-tracking his education through summer courses. He plans to earn undergraduate degrees in both classical piano and economics, and then to obtain a post-graduate degree in finance.

Of his two passions, Joey says: “I hope to continue to move hearts with my music, and to grow bank accounts with my investing strategies.” He describes his dog as instilling in him “the confidence to fight for myself. I feel safe and independent with Gunner by my side. I would like to express my gratitude to the Milton family and Guiding Eyes for the immeasurable impact they have had on my success.”