Finance major Arlena Winn, of Sunnyvale, wins Schoettler scholarship for visually impaired
SAN FRANCISCO, September 2, 2004 -- Arlena Winn, a senior majoring in finance at San Francisco State University, was one of 20 students statewide recently to earn the 2004 Dale M. Schoettler scholarship for visually impaired students. She will use the $5,000 scholarship award to cover living and travel expenses as she studies international business in Sweden during the academic year.
Winn, from Sunnyvale, has Stargardt's disease, an inherited condition that creates central blind spots that increase in size as the disease progresses, but leaves peripheral vision intact. She was diagnosed at age 12, but has not let the condition discourage her from achieving her goals.
"I think I got the scholarship because I am a person with a disability going off to another country to study," Winn said.
The 24-year-old senior has maintained a 3.2 grade point average and is attending Vaxjö College in Sweden to study international business for the entire academic year.
Despite having Stargardt's, Winn played college basketball during her freshman and sophomore years at Bethune-Cookman, a historically African American college in Florida.
"Playing basketball you need your peripheral vision, but you don't necessarily need your central vision," Winn said. "You just have to be really intuitive."
As a junior, Winn transferred to SFSU and began studying finance with a concentration in international business. She plans to graduate in 2006, after which she hopes to work in international finance and travel around the world.
"Arlena has demonstrated tremendous determination and resilience in overcoming obstacles in order to achieve her goals," said Patti Wright, transitions specialist in the SFSU Disabilities Programs and Resource Center. "She entered the university system with purpose, focus and life experience. Arlena has always strived for academic excellence and I am awed by her courage to embark on the incredible journey to study abroad in Sweden."
Winn, whose mother is Swedish, plans to learn as much Swedish as possible while studying there. She has begun studying Swedish books and listening to Swedish tapes.
"The Schoettler scholarship money is really going to help me afford this trip," Winn said. "I planned to study abroad before I was awarded the scholarship, and I applied for 12 scholarships in all, so it's really nice to get the Schoettler."
The Dale M. Schoettler scholarship, sponsored by the California State University, provides assistance for full-time students that are declared legally blind. It is made possible by a $3.4 million contribution to the CSU system received in 2002 from the estate of Schoettler, a longtime Bay Area resident.
One of the largest campuses in the CSU system, SFSU was founded in 1899 and today is a highly diverse, comprehensive, public and urban university.
Student Writer Elizabeth Davis contributed to this press release.
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