Compiled by: Kristen Witucki, College Success Program Curriculum and Content Editor
The College Success Program is pleased to introduce our 27 Mentors for the 2020-2021 academic year, and what better time to do it than during Meet the Blind Month! Our Mentors represent a variety of interests, personalities, experiences, and knowledge. Read on to learn more about a few of them in Part 3 of this blog series and see if you have anything in common. You never know when or where a connection can be made!
This blog is the third in a 5-part series. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
If you are a college student who is blind or low vision, and who is interested in working with one of our Mentors, please email email@example.com to begin the process!
Education: BA in Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University; MS in Mental Health Counseling from Vanderbilt University
James is a passionate leader and advocate who values collaboration and empowering others to reach their fullest potential. Through time and experience, he learned that his disability provided him the ability to serve and engage in opportunities that he would have never imagined! He entered college after fourteen years out of high school. He has served as an intern at The Tennessee Rehabilitation Center; at the center he worked with the blind, clients with traumatic brain injuries, and individuals with other disabilities. James started his own practice, Alliance Counseling, and now volunteers at The Refuge Center, a nonprofit counseling center.
James is quite active in many organizations, initiatives, and collaborations including: The Nashville Mayoral Council for People With Disabilities, American Foundation for the Blind, Vision Aware, National Federation of the Blind, National Alliance of Mental Health and many others. He also founded the Kustom Cane Initiative, which customizes canes for the blind and donates canes to blind people around the world who can't afford them.
James feels that with the proper tools, education, and supports, all individuals can live the life that they were created for. To unwind from his busy schedule, James enjoys time with his family, music, sports, and cooking.
Education: BA in Sociology from Manhattanville College
Katherine is currently working with people with disabilities and low-income families at a health advocacy organization in Yonkers, New York.
During her free time, Katherine likes to watch movies, go on walks, and spend time with family and friends. She has a passion for helping people with their life journey and is a great listener who is happy to help college students succeed in their higher education and social life.
Education: BS in Business Administration from Drexel University
Kinzey lives his life with the mindset that his lack of vision should never hinder his personal or professional growth. In college, while thriving in the classroom, Kinzey undertook 3 paid internships, spanning market research, communications, and enterprise marketing. He also served as President of Drexel's Rotary Interact Club, focusing on civic engagement throughout Philadelphia. Kinzey is a Client Relations Associate at Vanguard Investment Group.
In his free time, Kinzey enjoys long-distance running with Achilles International, an organization that provides guides for athletes with disabilities. He also enjoys pulling for any Philadelphia sports team, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
Kristen Witucki, College Success Program Curriculum and Content Editor
Education: BA in English with a minor in German and certification in Secondary Education from Vassar College; MA in Giftedness from Teachers College/Columbia University; MFA in Creative Writing/Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College; Ed.M in Teaching Students who are blind or visually impaired from Dominican College
Kristen has been totally blind since birth due to microphthalmia. In addition to curating resources that she hopes students will enjoy or find useful, Kristen assists in the recruitment and training of mentors and co-facilitates one of the Mentor small groups. Outside of her work with Learning Ally, Kristen mentors for New Jersey's EDGE Program and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and teaches braille for Vistas Education Partners. She is the author of The Transcriber, a book for adolescent emerging readers, Outside Myself, a young adult novel, and several shorter nonfiction articles. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, James, her sons, Langston and Noor, and her daughter, Karuna.
Liliya Asadullina, AKA Lily from Philly
Education: BS in Integrative Health Care from Metropolitan State University of Denver, LMT Academy of Massage Therapy and Bodyworks
Lily was born in a small town in Russia and was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer called Retina Blastoma at age two. She and her mother immigrated to the United States so that she could receive better medical treatment.
Currently, Lily lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and works as a massage therapist. She enjoys being a resource for mentees and loves to see each student grow. Some of her hobbies include swimming, reading, meeting new people, and listening to country music.
To read the biographies of the rest of our Mentors, click here.