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Blind Graduate Student Aspires to Help Fellow Students with Disabilities

Categories: Blind or Visually Impaired

Blind graduate student Luis Fontanez, Jr."I can state with the utmost honesty that my life did not truly begin until the day I became totally blind," says 30-year-old Luis Fontanez, Jr. (profiled in this article from the Reading Eagle newspaper). Since childhood, Fontanez had considerable vision loss caused by congenital glaucoma. Later in high school, an injury causing severe retinal detachment left him completely blind. After struggling with his condition for several years, Fontanez accepted his first white cane in 2003 and fully embraced the challenges in front of him. Those challenges included years of higher education to follow. He started by attending college at Reading Area Community College in Pennsylvania as a secondary education history major. After earning an associate's degree at RACC, Fontanez completed a bachelor's degree in counseling psychology at Alvernia University. Having graduated from Alvernia magna cum laude and with dean's list honors, Fontanez is now pursuing a master's degree in psychology at Penn State University. His impressive list of educational achievements is due, in part, to using Learning Ally's audio textbooks throughout his academic career. "The differences Learning Ally has made in my life can be described as liberating, freeing, and profound,” says Fontanez. “It liberated me from the constraint of having to be read to, and has given me the freedom to choose when and where I want to read.” Fontanez looks forward to a career as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, helping students who, like him, are navigating school with a disability. In recognition of his achievements, Fontanez is a special honors winner of Learning Ally's 2014 National Achievement Awards