Press Releases

Lighthouse Guild Awards 18 College Scholarships to Students with Vision Loss

June 24, 2019

Brooklyn Paralympic Athlete Receives Award to Attend Medical School

Lighthouse Guild announced today that it is awarding 18 college scholarships of $7,500 each to students who are legally blind. The awardees include 17 students who are entering undergraduate schools and one student who is entering medical school.   

Paralympic athlete Caitlin Sarubbi, born and raised in Brooklyn, is receiving a scholarship to help achieve her dream of becoming a doctor. The daughter of a retired New York City Firefighter who was active during 9/11, Ms. Sarubbi was born with a very rare and severe syndrome called Ablepharon Macrostomia, which left her legally blind, partially hearing impaired and having to undergo over 60 reconstructive surgeries starting at 3 days old. She knew from an early age that she wanted to become a doctor. In 2008, as a high school student, she received a college-bound scholarship from Lighthouse Guild. In 2010, she competed as an alpine ski racer in the Paralympic Games in Vancouver. She went on to receive her undergraduate degree from Harvard in 2015 and is now starting her studies at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine in New Jersey.

Caitlin Sarubbi
Caitlin Sarubbi

Ms. Sarubbi says, “This scholarship from Lighthouse Guild allows me to focus on my studies in medical school and my goal of being the best doctor I can be with less concern about financial obligations. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to go to medical school and pay it forward by helping others the way my surgeons and doctors have helped me.”

She adds, “I hope to continue to show all people that no matter what challenges you may face, you can still accomplish any goal you set for yourself, and nothing is impossible.”

Lighthouse Guild scholarships are based on strong academic accomplishment and merit to help students with vision loss make a successful transition to college and graduate education. The 2019 recipients are from across the country and will be attending some of the nation’s most competitive universities.

Dr. Alan R Morse, President and CEO of Lighthouse Guild, says, “Applying for college, getting accepted, and obtaining financing can be particularly challenging for students with vision loss. We are pleased to be able to help outstanding students who are legally blind pursue their studies and secure their futures.”

2019 Lighthouse Guild Scholarship Recipients and Schools

  • David Abrahams, Havertown, PA, Harvard
  • Alexandra Allers, Fort Gratiot, MI, University of Michigan
  • Ryan Basso, Port Chester, NY, University of Delaware
  • Mitchell Bridwell, Pittsboro, IN, Purdue University
  • Stephen Friday, Muskegon, MI, University of Michigan
  • Emily Hicks, Cumming, GA, University of Alabama
  • Gene Kim, Cupertino, CA, Stanford University
  • Aymon Langlois, Reading MA, Skidmore College
  • Jack MacDonald, Enfield, CT, University of Hartford
  • Mikayla M, Lake Worth, FL, University of South Florida
  • Luke Miller, Elmhurst, IL, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana
  • Lukas Mullaney, Brightwaters, NY, Providence College
  • Kaylee Nielson, Phoeniz, AZ, Wellesley College
  • Anna Ohrt, Issaquah, WA, Brown University
  • Rio Popper, Redwood City, CA, Oxford University
  • Caitlin Sarubbi, Brooklyn, NY, Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine
  • Lea Schiefele, Lake Worth, FL, Florida Southern College
  • Kinshuk Tella, Miamisburg, Ohio, Miami University, Ohio

Since its inception in 2005, Lighthouse Guild’s Scholarship Program has awarded over $2 million in scholarships to outstanding students from 38 states.  Former scholarship recipients have gone on to careers as attorneys, teachers, engineers, chemists, composers, musicians, neuroscientists, social workers, business owners, investors, epidemiologists, nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, journalists and computer scientists.

Teaching Award

Lighthouse Guild also recognizes the powerful role teachers play in motivating students who are blind by each year recognizing a teacher based on nominations received from the students themselves. The 2019 Lighthouse Guild Teacher Award recipient is Jenny Padgett, a teacher at Cupertino High School in California.   

Her student nominee, Gene Kim, says, “Mrs. Padgett was my Honors American Literature teacher during my eleventh grade, and she remains one of the most academically and socially influential teachers in my life. She listened and engaged with me as a unique individual, not just ‘that blind student I see in the mornings everyday.’”

Gordon Rovins, Director of Special Programs at Lighthouse Guild, says, “Each year we receive hundreds of scholarship applications and nominations for teachers from amazing students from across the country. Each has a unique and compelling story of academic triumph and incredible achievement.  Congratulations to the students, the teachers and their families.”

About Lighthouse Guild
Lighthouse Guild is the leading organization dedicated to addressing and preventing vision loss. For more information, visit

Press Contact: Bryan Dotson, Manners Dotson Group

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