Eddie Thieszen-Culp (3rd Quarter, 2006)

3rd Quarter, 2006
Liberal Arts Scholarship Winner
Eddie Thieszen-Culp

“After obtaining my M.S. I plan to pursue a Juris Doctorate degree. I intend to combine the J.D. and M.S. degrees to advocate for disability rights, write disability management policy, analyze contemporary disability policy and work directly with consumers who receive rehabilitation services in understanding their rights and the rehabilitation process.

I am married with two children, a girl and a boy. My daughter is eight years old and lives with her mother in Louisiana. My son is 11 weeks and lives with my wife and me.

I honor, cherish and adore my family. My wife is my foundation and keeps me steady. I know that she is the catalyst for all of my successes due to her love and support.”

A Portion of Eddie’s Winning Essay:

Eddie Thieszen-Culp

The unemployment rate among the blind is over seventy percent. This is primarily due to misconceptions about blindness and blind people. Often times these misconceptions lead to prejudice and bias in the hiring process. Hence, a blind person has to do twice as much as a sighted person in order to convince an employer to hire him while still knowing the odds of securing gainful employment without an upper level education are incalculable.

Because of these odds and social stigma, my wife (who is also blind) and I have to depend on government programs to sustain a meaningful living standard. This scholarship will assist us in paying for college tuition, utilities and groceries. If I were to receive outside monetary assistance, it would alleviate much stress of how we are going to pull it together each month in order to reap the rewards of a higher education.

I am a blind African American male who was age thirty upon graduation from the Metropolitan State College of Denver. I am a first generation college attendee born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. In my family, before me, only my father finished high school. This statement more than any other demonstrates my dedication toward my goals, the resilience of my willpower, the quality of my character, the relentlessness of my pursuits, the breadth of my determination and the drive of my motivation. My personal motto is “Don’t allow the fear to smother out the fire, but allow the fire to burn away the fear”. I offer this statement in service of your scholarship opportunity.

Due to life my undergraduate academics pursuits have been turbulent, however, the journey has been insightful and rewarding. I recieved my B.A. in Communication Theory and a minor in Psychology. To observers outside these fields, each of these disciplines can be nebulous; thus, I offer clarification in the following paragraphs.

Communication is one of the most important human qualities and whom ever is best effectively able to analyze, perceive, understand, predict, initiate, listen, persuade and empathize with people via the communication process is best able to effect change in others lives for the better.

Communication Theory is an integrated discipline that combines Psychology, Sociology and Social Work into one cohesive and comprehensive field of study. Communication theory focuses on predicting, understanding and developing human behavioral patterns based on theory, research and the application of communication patterns. The communication theory student offers insights into social factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, education and social class that affect work, groups and organizations. The communication theory student uses communication and sociological methods to solve everyday intrapersonal and interpersonal problems.

Communication theory prepares students for work as employee managers, public relations specialists, personal relationship consultants and education consultants, as well as in vocational rehabilitation and health care. It affords the student the opportunity to work in a wide variety of settings such as schools, hospitals, community clinics and rehabilitation centers and is an excellent preparation for graduate studies in social science research programs.

The psychology minor was representative of a very strong liberal arts program in the generalist model, requiring demonstrated skills in both quantitative and conceptual areas. The coursework stressed all aspects of human behavior and the research methods used to study those behaviors. The Psychology minor has given me the tools to demonstrate the ability to relate psychological principles and methodology to problems and issues in other disciplines and has allowed me to express an appreciation for the value of psychological knowledge in improving our world and for individual differences and universal commonalities in human experience.

I have survived successfully: a story of suffering, struggle, determination and change. Throughout my life I have dealt with the following, which include: Visual impairment and its impact on my self esteem; Capitulation to others misconceptions about blindness, about the height of my goals and about the quality of my dreams; Lack of resources and exposure in an environment to foster intellectual capacity; A dysfunctional family frought with serious problems such as alcoholism, abuse and neglect which have led to surviving consistently being let down, not trusting others, suspicion of outside systems and lack of understanding that decision making is a process.

I share these experiences because despite these challenges and obstacles, I have not allowed them to dictate my future, drive my decisions, chain me to stereotypes or stop me from pursuing my goals.
Moreover, I believe they have provided me a depth of understanding and lifelong experiences that will serve me well in life.

In order to make life-altering changes, one must understand the consciousness and process of decisions. I have been, and continue to be, willing to look at my life and make the changes that I want. I affirm that changing is worth the risk and effort. In order for one to go from struggle to change in the life cycle, it is important to accept the change while affirming the experiences. I have looked at my life, made changes and affirmed my experiences.

One of the most powerful determinants of the therapeutic encounter is that we bring our human qualities and the experiences that have influenced us while also remaining open to others’ unique experiences. My past influences have allowed me to evaluate ways to work on my development as a person– my own needs, motivations, values and personality. I fully comprehend the role these traits are theorized to play in both my effectiveness and biases as a counselor, colleague and community server. I believe that I have evolved culturally from being unaware to a recognition of the forces that have shaped me. I am committed to ensuring that my personal biases, values or problems will not interfere with my ability to work with consumers who are culturally different from me. By remaining open to self-evaluation, I hope to continue to expand my awareness of self and formulate the foundation for developing into a better person. Further, by remaining open to self evaluation through the encounters with others I would be a successful candidate for your scholarship.

Congruently, my abilities as a counselor, collegue and community server are enhanced by my past experiences. Both my social background and physical challenges help me to relate to others’ suffering, struggles, determination and changes. Others sense the sincerity of my empathy and feel they can open up to me without fear of judgment or prejudice. I am often relied upon for stability, direction and assistance. I intend on honoring that faith and trust, to make a difference and to leave those with whom I interact feeling “better”.

Through my genuineness I hope to foster a climate in which consumers are invited to look honestly at their behavior and lifestyle and to make certain decisions about how they want to modify the quality of their life; eventually arriving at answers most congruent with their own values.

I have benefited tremendously from the discovery of my own value system through interaction with my rehabilitation counselor, many blind mentors and my own experience. These interactions have assisted me in understanding my motivations for pursuing a masters degree in rehabilitation counseling, assessing my values, accepting my needs, dispensing with archaic attitudes, realizing my experiences were valuable and checking my assumptions. It helped convinced me that one can finally arrive at a sense of identity and peacefulness.

Although no one can be all things to everyone, I will strive to be a community server who role models, mentors and believes in the abilities of all people because if you demonstrate to others that you can succeed and are invested in their success, they will know and believe that success is possible also.

After receipt of my masters in rehabilitation counseling, I primarily want to work with indigent populations, disabled individuals and the blind. I want to assist each of these groups to recognize their own strengths, discover what is preventing them from using those strengths and clarify what kind of person each individual aspires to be. I hope to assist clients in making use of indigenous support systems and to effectively use available community resources. Having the knowledge and experience I will gain from my graduate program, coupled with the survival and insight from my own challenges in life, I can serve as a resourceful person and a meaningful model for change and success.
I feel passionately that my life’s calling is to work with those persons whom society has marginalized and dismissed. I am eager to continue my education to learn more in order to better serve and counsel. I believe that with my zest for life and this calling to help others I will make a great candidate for your scholarship. I have much experience, personally and professionally, and I am willing to work hard to put it to good use and to learn so much more.

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