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Students with mobility-related disabilities at Gallaudet University are now able to benefit from a scholarship fund established in 2015 in honor of Philip Preis, E-’78, a lifelong advocate of the mobility-disabled community. The fund’s first award period will begin in fall 2017.

Philip, who became deaf and paralyzed from a motorcycle accident in 1966, was a student at Gallaudet from 1975 to 1977. Because of limited accessibility on campus at that time, he did not graduate.

Helena Schmitt, ’71, a long-time friend of Philip, admired his positive attitude in spite of his severe disability. She volunteered as his caregiver for the last 15 years of his life. Philip passed away in 2014.

Because of Helena’s profound firsthand experiences with Philip, she sought to help students with similar disabilities. Schmitt established the Philip Preis, E-’78, Memorial Scholarship fund in order to provide financial support for graduate and undergraduate students at Gallaudet University with mobility-related disabilities resulting in continued use of a wheelchair or power chair.

“This scholarship fund was created for two main reasons,” said Schmitt. “One is to remember Philip’s legacy, and the other is to assist deaf students with mobility-related challenges, like Philip’s.”

This fund, the first mobility-related disability scholarship at Gallaudet, honors Philip’s impact as a leader in the mobility-disabled community. Preference will be given to candidates with mobility-related disabilities resulting in continued use of a wheelchair or power chair and with a strong GPA.

“I hope more deaf students with other disabilities will enroll at Gallaudet through this fund,” said Schmitt. “
Recipients for this scholarship must be deaf or hard of hearing, have a GPA of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale, must demonstrate financial need, be registered with the Office of Students With Disabilities (OSWD), be an active participant of the OSWD (defined as three contacts per semester with OSWD officials), and have a permanent, documented mobility-related disability. Candidates may be enrolled part-time or full-time as an undergraduate or graduate student. The OSWD director will coordinate with the Financial Aid office in making the awards when considering both financial need and student debt. The scholarship may be used towards tuition, academic fees, and on-campus room and board.”

Photo courtesy of Helena Schmitt.

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