Freshman wins national award, meets First Lady
March 20, 2008

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Kirsten with First Lady Laura Bush in the White HouseKirsten Amling, a freshman from Santa Barbara, Calif., recently was presented a Marion Huber Learning Through Listening Award in the National Achievement Award program of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D).
 
Kirsten, a Communication Studies major at Bryan, was one of three college students selected for the award, which recognizes superior accomplishment by students with learning disabilities in a nationwide contest.
 
The three, along with three winners of the Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Award for visually impaired college students, were honored at a dinner in Washington, D.C. The next day, they visited the White House, where they met First Lady Laura Bush and were given a special tour of the President’s home by a Secret Service agent. “We got the same tour other groups do, but we got to go behind the ropes,” she explained. “For example, we got to sit on the furniture in the Red Room, and I signed the White House guest book.”
 
Kirsten with her parents, Marc and Karen AmlingThey toured the U.S. Capitol, had lunch at the Capitol Hill Club, then visited several congressional offices to lobby for support for programs benefitting visually impaired and learning disabled persons. “I visited my Congresswoman, Rep. Lois Capps (D.-Calif.), and a representative from New Jersey. A spokesman for the organization told what RFB&D does, and I told how I benefitted.”
 
The award she received was for high school seniors. “It took a massive amount of work,” she said. “There was a 500-1,000-word essay to write, two letters of recommendation to submit, along with my high school transcript and test scores,” she said. The application process narrowed the field from about 200 initial applicants for the award, over a 10-month period.
 
Although she began struggling with school in the fourth grade, she did not learn about RFB&D until she was in high school. Using the organization’s audio books helped her successfully complete high school and enter college.  At Bryan, Kirsten is freshman class vice president. After she graduates, she would like to teach ballet to children.