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July 2011 Graduating Class

July 2011 graduating class
Joanne Callahan & Mahoney
Mauri Ferreira & Carlin
Tina Haskin & Butch
Nicole Pedone & Ikea
T.V. Raman & Tilden
Heather Rasmussen & Pacer
D.J. Robinson & Orlando
Lisa Roszyk & Lynne
Bridget Walker & Paulson
Catherine Shea Welch & Oleta
Nicol Yarmolkevich & Jethro

Home Training Graduates
James Collins & Maverick
Carmen Trudel & Pasco

Many thanks to our instructors:
Melinda Angstrom, Class Supervisor
Graham Buck, ACTION Instructor
Kathryn Poallo, Class Instructor
Caryn Fellows, Class Instructor
Susan Kroha, Special Needs Instructor
James Gardner, Home Training Instructor
Kristina Anderson, Home Training Instructor
Michael Ceglio, Instructor Assistant

Photo of Joanne Callahan and MahoneyJoanne Callahan and Mahoney
Joanne Callahan comes from Virginia for her seventh guide dog, Mahoney, a black male Lab. She utilized the ACTION program, a specialized course of instruction for experienced guide dog users.

Joanne has two daughters, two nephews and a niece. She attended Harvard undergrad and did her graduate work at Stanford.  She then received a second master’s degree from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.  Joanne has worked for the CIA for 33 years and is currently assigned to a national security strategy on education.

Joanne was born blind with a damaged optic nerve. She loves music and theatre, tandem bike riding, reading and spending time with her girls.

Joanne is looking forward to going on long walks with Mahoney.  “He has a gentleness about him. Playful but never rough. He won’t bite but will nibble and comes and sniffs my hair. Working with him is a joy.”

Photo of Mauri Valmor Ferreira and CarlinMauri Valmor Ferreira and Carlin
Mauri Ferreira traveled from Brazil for Carlin, a yellow male Lab.  Retinitis pigmentosa with optima myopia caused Mauri’s vision loss, and Carlin will be his second guide dog.

Mauri has been married for 21 years and has two children.   He works at the Central Post Office as a telephonist.  In his spare time, he enjoys football, soccer and listening to music.

Carlin has already made a big difference in Mauri’s life, and he is very happy to have him.  He is looking forward to shopping, going to soccer stadiums, attending evening classes, and having the freedom to do anything he wants to do.  Carlin is even learning Portuguese!



Photo of Sandra (Tina) Haskin and ButchSandra (Tina) Haskin and Butch
Illinois resident Tina Haskin was matched with yellow Lab Butch.  Tina is the youngest of seven children and was born visually impaired.  Tina was introduced to Guiding Eyes two years ago through Transvision, when the group visited Guiding Eyes to learn about what life would be like with a guide dog.

This is an exciting time in Tina’s life; she’ll be moving to Utah to start college in the fall.  She’d like to become a teacher and work with blind children, so she will major in special education.

Tina loves spending time with people – especially children.  She also enjoys reading, writing, and singing.

Traveling with Butch gets better and better every time they head out.  Tina absolutely adores him.


Photo of Nicole Pedone and IkeaNicole Pedone and Ikea
Nicole Pedone will return to Ohio with her second guide dog, Ikea a black male Lab.

Nicole lost her sight rapidly as a result of her diabetes.  Her vision loss accompanied other serious health problems, forcing her to adapt quickly to a changed lifestyle.  Looking forward, Nicole hopes to provide motivation and inspiration for other people going through this transition.

Nicole is engaged to a military officer, and the couple recently moved into a new home.  She has a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University in interpersonal communications, and works for the Cuyahoga County Auditors Office.  Nicole also actively volunteers with the American Diabetes Association, The Ohio Army National Guard, and the Cleveland Sight Center.

During rare free time, Nicole loves to work on her new home.  She’s looking forward to sharing all of her adventures with Ikea.

Photo of T.V. Raman and TildenT.V.  Raman and Tilden
California resident T.V. Raman made his way to the east coast for Tilden, a male yellow Lab.  T.V. was born with glaucoma and lost his remaining vision when he was 14.

He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Pune, and then attended Cornell University for both a master’s degree in computer science and a PhD in applied mathematics.  T.V. started his career at IBM and now is a senior software engineer for Google.

T.V. never liked using a cane and a trip to Manhattan convinced him he needed to make a change. “With a cane, people jump out of your way.  With a dog, you go right around people. There is a heightened level of dignity.”

Tilden is T.V.’s third guide dog; he will travel quite a bit alongside his busy handler.

Photo of Heather Marie Rasmussen and PacerHeather Marie Rasmussen and Pacer
Heather Rasmussen is from Tennessee and has been matched with Pacer, a male yellow Lab and her first guide dog.  Heather’s vision loss stems from an accident during her infancy that caused her optic nerve to be severed.

Heather has two sisters, two brothers and is youngest of them all. She is an aunt and a great aunt with four nieces and nephews and two great nieces.

Heather is now a sophomore at American University majoring in international studies. She spends most of her time studying and catching up with friends across the country.  She enjoys hiking.

Heather wanted a guide dog and came to Guiding Eyes because a friend was a student here.  After a fencing injury where Heather fractured two bones, she lost a lot of confidence in herself and in her ability to travel independently. Pacer is just what she needs.  It will be much easier at school; Heather knows she’ll feel much less awkward moving through large crowds with Pacer by her side.

Photo of Davian (DJ) Robinson and OrlandoDavian (DJ)  Robinson and Orlando
DJ Robinson traveled from North Carolina for his first guide dog, Orlando, a male yellow Lab.

DJ was born prematurely and his retina wasn’t fully developed.  Everything he can see appears very hazy.  He went to a school for the blind and excelled in sports.  He competed in a track and field festival in Colorado Springs last summer, winning numerous medals.  Cycling is another great passion, and DJ has competed in the Paralympics and has also represented North Carolina in a national competition in California.

DJ’s natural athleticism made him a fast cane traveler, but he regularly injured himself bumping into obstacles.  With Orlando, D.J. is no longer anxious about walking quickly.  As he begins his physical therapy studies in North Carolina, he’s relieved to have Orlando with him – every step of the way.

Photo of Lisa Roszyk and LynneLisa Roszyk and Lynne
Lisa Roszyk is from New York and has been matched with her first guide dog, Lynne, a yellow female Lab.  Lisa was born with Aniridia, the absence of an iris.  She also has cataracts and scratched lenses.

Lisa will attend SUNY Fredonia and is majoring in education. She has been accepted to the accelerated program and will be completing a six year program in four years.  Lisa loved high school, and was actively involved with various clubs and activities.  One of her favorite memories was working on the yearbook.  She jokes that, “the visually impaired woman took the photos while the hearing impaired guy did the interviews.”

Lisa loves to work, and enjoys reading, swimming, and cooking.  She has worked in several cafes, and she’s an expert on the grill.   She volunteers for Big Brother, Big Sister, and has earned the Presidential Award for Community Service.  She is also a member of GSA (Gay/Straight Alliance.)

“Coming here is mentally and emotionally nothing you can ever expect. You concentrate on the dog, while learning a new language and a new way to do things.”  Lisa already loves Lynne, and she’s excited for their future together.

Photo of Bridget A. Walker and PaulsonBridget A. Walker and Paulson
New Yorker Bridget Walker was matched with yellow Lab Paulson, her first guide dog.

Bridget’s vision loss was caused by Shaken Baby Syndrome. She didn’t realize how much she couldn’t see until a blindfold exercise with an orientation and mobility instructor at the age of sixteen.  Bridget lives with her grandparents and twin older sisters, four cats, two dogs and a chinchilla.  She jokes about her Grandma’s habit of rearranging the furniture at night.

Bridget loves assistive technology and is proficient in Braille.  One day she hopes to be a teacher and advocate for public school kids – to make sure they have everything they need to succeed.  Her ultimate career goal is to be a technology specialist and work for the Commission for the Blind in technology evaluations.

The assistive technology lab at Guiding Eyes was a regular hangout spot for Bridget; she enjoyed using the two scanning programs, the Braille readers, and the Tiger embosser.

Paulson’s work pattern is excellent; he is focused and doesn’t get easily distracted.  Bridget shares, “he’s really relaxed, calm and sweet. He emulates my mood all the time and I am so happy I have him.”  Bridget would become regularly disoriented when traveling on her own with a cane; Paulson will be a huge help.

Photo of Catherine Shea Welch and OletaCatherine Shea Welch and Oleta
Shea Welch will head home to Maryland with Oleta, a female black Lab.

Shea lost her sight due to an ampicillin reaction when she was six.  She has wanted a guide dog since then, and at just 16, she was the youngest student in the July class.

Shea is a member of the high school marching band and plays the keyboard.   When it rains, the band uses tents to protect themselves and their equipment; Shea will be sure to get a tent for Oleta.   When the team heads to college, they will study vocal performance or music ministry. Outside of school, Shea enjoys camping, horseback riding, rock climbing, and white water rafting.

The first day with Oleta was surreal – truly a life changing experience.  Shea describes how traveling with her new guide dog feels fluid, and how they never run into things.  She’s having fun getting to know her new companion, and knows that Oleta will greatly boost her confidence.

Photo of Nicol Yarmolkevich and JethroNicol Yarmolkevich and Jethro
Nicol Yarmolkevich will return home to Illinois with her first guide dog, Jethro, a yellow male Lab.

Nicol’s sight impairment was caused by a gene mutation at birth.  She came to visit Guiding Eyes two years ago with a group of visually impaired students. She loved the place and looked forward to coming back.

Nicol enjoys crafting figurines out of Play-Doh.  She has discovered a way to preserve her creations by covering them with layers of glue before they dry. When finished, they look and feel like glass.

Nicol’s time at Guiding Eyes has been even better than what she expected; working with Jethro has been amazing.  She’s made great friends, has felt truly respected, and the trainers have been extraordinarily helpful.

This fall Nicol and Jethro will head to Elmhurst College to major in social work.  They live in the dorm and will enjoy an easy walk to explore the downtown area.