Scholarship helps disabled student pursue education

In its 30th year of giving, the College of Business awarded almost $300,000 in scholarships this month to 120 students.

One student who received nearly $2,000 is 19-year-old Justin Chan, and the scholarship will help him pursue his education while dealing with a disability.

Chan was diagnosed with leukemia at age 8. Although treatment sent his disease into remission, he suffered a brain hemorrhage that left him partially blind.

“The hardest part was not enduring therapy or learning a new way to read. It was accepting the fact that I am blind,” he said.

Chan said he gets help from his parents, but the scholarship money provides “a lot” of help for things like bus fare. Most importantly, it motivates him, he said.

Chan, a sophomore double majoring in psychology and general business, uses a cane to navigate across campus and has most of it campus memorized.

“Losing my sight did not mean that I had to face a future void of achievement,” he said. “I learned that if I worked hard, persevered and focused, I could do anything I hoped.”

His disability has required Chan to be innovative in completing his studies by using audiobooks and a computer that reads information aloud from Web sites as well as his typing.

“I know Braille, but I don’t use it often,” Chan said.

The College of Business awarded the scholarships Sept. 11 at an annual luncheon where Chan gave the keynote address. The luncheon allowed recipients to meet sponsors who donated the funds.

Donors include faculty, individuals who created a scholarship in memory of family members or corporate contributors like Grow Financial and Bank of Tampa, said Robert Forsythe, dean of the College of Business.

In order to receive awards, students apply for the College of Business scholarships each spring, and the applications are reviewed by a committee. Students are selected based on the different criteria set up by the respective donors.

Chan said he was grateful for being selected.

“Just knowing that there are people willing to help motivates me,” he said.