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KU Senior Named Virginia M. Sowell Student of the Year

April 14, 2016

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - Kutztown University teacher of the visually impaired student Jessica Kolvites has been selected by the Division on Visual Impairments and Deafblindness to receive the Virginia M. Sowell Student of the Year Award. 

This award is given to students who the organization feels demonstrates a commitment to the education and/or rehabilitation of individuals with visual impairments and deafblindness. The award itself is named after Dr. Virginia Sowell, whose lifetime contributions to the profession impacted the lives of numerous educators and countless children and adults with visual impairments and deafblindness.

Prior to receiving the award, Kolvites was one of many undergraduate students across the country to submit proposals for presentation at the annual Council for Exceptional Children conference. Finding her focus through an observation she made earlier in the year, Kolvites decided to dedicate her proposal to the subject of deaf-blind students who must use tactile symbols to communicate, a subject for which she said there was little to no prior research on. After successfully presenting her research, Kolvites had then been selected to serve as a student ambassador at the conference the next year. It was then at this point she was subsequently nominated for the student of the year award.

Leading up to her attending the conference, and even being nominated for the award, she has worked as a resident assistant for the PA Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services Summer Academy, worked as a summer teaching assistant Kutztown's Visual Impairment Department, presented at the Penn-Del AER state vision conference and was also selected as a student presenter for a Kutztown Council of Trustees meeting back in September.

After graduation, Kolvites plans to move to Tennessee to continue her education at Vanderbilt University where she will be working towards her Master's Degree in Visual Studies.