Partners for Youth with Disabilities is proud to have partnered with Denny’s for the second year as they strive to fight childhood hunger, promote education, and bring communities together.
PYD granted 10 scholarships totaling $10,000 to young people with disabilities. The winners are members of our local PYD family and beyond; their positive outlook and ability to reflect on their challenges as they plan for their futures exemplifies the values and mission of PYD. Since its founding in 2011, Denny’s Hungry for Education scholarship has provided more than $1.5million in scholarships to students from across the country.
Please join us in congratulating our 2021 Denny’s Hungry for Education scholarship winners.
Brian of Dorchester, MA plans to attend either Bunker Hill Community College or Roxbury Community College with the goal of becoming an Assistant Teacher at the Lee school, working specifically with children on the autism spectrum. A PYD participant, Brian knows the importance of seeing beyond the disability and supporting each other.
PYD Participant Brian of Dartmouth, MA, suggested Denny’s bring communities together by becoming more inclusive in their hiring practices, adding that individuals with disabilities, for example those with Down syndrome or on the autism spectrum, possess traits that would benefit the service industry. Joining UMass Dartmouth as a freshman this fall, Brian plans to major in Mathematics.
Still narrowing down her options, El-Capitan High School’s Valedictorian Neyda of Merced, CA, will begin college this fall with the hopes of becoming either an immigration attorney or an international human rights lawyer. A first-generation student, Neyda is well on her way to achieving great things.
Erika of Spring, TX plans to major in education at Houston State University in the fall. An active member of her community, Erika volunteers at the Jessie Jones Park, educating visitors about Native Americans. Her motivation to become a teacher stems from her desire to be a positive role model for children with disabilities, showing them that their disability “will not always hold you back in life.”
Camden of Land O Lakes, FL will be attending the University of South Florida, majoring in information technology. Diagnosed with dysgraphia, Camden turned to technology to overcome the challenges he faced. A published author, TEDx Ted Talk representative, MITRE Corporation Software engineering intern and Program Recognition Award winner, Camden will attend the University of South Florida this fall. Ultimately, Camden wishes to use a degree to help others, like him, who “simply have a different way of accomplishing the same task as others.”
A communication and media studies major at Merrimack College, Tom of Newton, MA, participated in PYD’s mentoring program. “The mentorship program assisted greatly with my social skills, self-confidence and sense of fulfillment, and Amy and I remained a match through the program through the end of my high school career.” As a college freshman, Tom is an active member of Merrimack’s DREAM (Disability Rights, Education, Activism and Mentorship) chapter, currently serving as the Social Media Chair on the executive board.
PYD alumna Lillian of Lexington, MA is a High Point University sophomore majoring in pre-law and is involved in both Greek life and the theater department. Lillian credits her participation in PYD with introducing her to the “most amazing role models and mentors who have provided tons of guidance, laughter and support.” As a peer leader in PYD’s Youth Leadership Program, she enjoyed the opportunity to “pay it forward and promote the power of mentorship.” Her goal is to become a disability advocacy lawyer, working on Capitol Hill.
Sophia of Fremont, CA is a junior at San Jose State University. Sophia suggested Denny’s bring communities together through a “join me at my table” initiative to connect volunteers with isolated individuals to share a meal together. As a student facing many challenges, Sophia credits her success to the dedicated teachers who “saw my potential, and saw me for who I was, am, and could be, not just for my challenges, disadvantages, and limitations.” Her goal is to become a special education teacher and lift other students up to reach their full potential.
Cathy of Murray, UT took some time off from school; returning almost a decade later, Cathy will complete her bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University in Idaho this year. After graduation, Cathy plans to pursue a career supporting Autistic children as a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst, providing ABA therapy. “Being blind is considered a disability to most people. Personally, I consider it an opportunity to see life in a different capacity.”
Ashley of Houston, TX is a sophomore at Texas A&M majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies/Special Education. After graduation, she plans to apply for a master’s program in Speech-Language Pathology. When asked how Denny’s could bring communities together, Ashely spoke of the importance of food during disaster relief. As someone from the gulf coast, she understands the importance of the Mobile Relief Diner- “Food seems to be a part of every gathering whether it is a happy celebration or somber event. In a world that sometimes feels divided and broken, we can all agree that food is something that connects us all. When you are fed you feel like a part of a family and Denny’s has shown through continued efforts that family and community is everything.”
We are thrilled to help support these outstanding students and look forward to following their careers. We are grateful to Denny’s for being a champion of inclusion and supporting students as they further their education and work towards their future goals.
The winners will be honored at a virtual celebration hosted by Denny’s on May 19, 2022, streamed on Denny’s YouTube and Facebook channels, Denny’s Hungry for Education website, and Clap TV available on Roku.