Donna Brostek- University of Louisville
My passion for working with individuals with visual impairments started long before I ever even knew such a field existed. Growing up, I frequently marveled at the fact my parents had raised a dog that successfully became a Leader Dog. My curiosity lead me to choose Louis Braille and Helen Keller for my first two book reports in third grade, furthering my knowledge on the blind and visually impaired. But it was not until I went away to college at Western Michigan University that I discovered there was an actual program specific to teaching the blind and visually impaired.
Once I found my calling, I embraced it wholeheartedly. I quickly came to love my classes and found great enjoyment volunteering at the Michigan Commission for the Blind Training Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I involved myself in everything I could to learn more about my profession and the students I would come to work with, as it only reinforced how right my chosen career was for me. I immediately proceeded with getting my master’s degree in Orientation and Mobility upon completion of my bachelor’s degree as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired. The intrigue of traveling without sight was one of great interest to me, especially knowing the independence it provides.
I have worked the past three years as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist for the Hillsdale County Intermediate School District, a small rural district in south-central Michigan. I had the greatest job on Earth and came home every day knowing I made a difference in the lives of my students, which did not make my decision to leave an easy one. Despite my reservations to move on, I know a fellowship from NCLVI will allow me to expand my ability to touch others’ lives far beyond the small county of Hillsdale.
I am eager to begin my studies at the University of Louisville, as the needs of my field are very real to me. We first and foremost are in need of more teachers. I know many circumstances where students are not getting the services they need because caseloads are too big, or worse, they have no teacher at all! In addition, we lack research in many areas such as mathematics, technology, and curriculum development. One of my many interests is working in early intervention, as the early years are so critical to development which affects children well into their adulthood. The possibilities are endless and a NCLVI fellowship is allowing me to expand my passion and share my love for teaching with others. It is my goal to have a positive impact on the field of blindness and visual impairment that will last for years to come. I am very grateful for this wonderful opportunity, as obtaining my PhD has always been a dream I hoped to achieve. Without NCLVI, my dream would still be exactly that…a dream, not a reality!