Written by Katelyn Strangstalien
Losing my sight when I was only three years old as a result of a rare cancer of the eye called Retinoblastoma has definitely presented its fair share of challenges to me. But very few, if any, I have not managed to overcome. Right after I lost my sight at age three a teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired visited me in my home once or twice a week to begin the process of teaching me braille—a system of different combinations of dots to represent letters and numbers in a tactile format for blind individuals. As I've always been a quick and eager learner, I was able to read better than most of my classmates in kindergarten and quickly reached the top of the class. However, as math is such a visual subject of learning I encountered many challenges with learning and comprehending mathematics as the years progressed. But with some patience and extra practice aand time put in at school it was nothing I couldn't come to learn and understand without much difficulty. Eventually when I got older and entered high school accelerated classes were offered. These were opportunities which I was eager to reach for and determined to pass. I took and passed two Advanced Placement classes, Language and Government, with a score of four. Now in my senior year, I have visited a few different colleges in order to make the fateful choice of which one to attend. I had my sights set on The College of St. Benedict's the first day I visited. So one night me and my father sat down, filled out the application on line, and submitted it. A week and a half later I received my acceptance letter as well as a presidential scholarship which would apply for all four years of college. So with a little extra time put in and unbreakable determination, success is possible for anyone.
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Connor Gunsbury and Clark Hickman each received a letter of invitation to apply for this year's competition.
The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of our nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. Each year, up to 141 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.