DSB Buzz Fall/Winter 2021


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The DSB Buzz

Fall/Winter 2021 Edition

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Newsletter Contents


It’s that Time of the Season!

Although the festivities of Fall and Winter holiday seasons are beginning to turn the corner, many students are beginning to consider and finalize their decisions for their post-high school journeys. Will you be going to college? Trade school? Work? An apprenticeship? Wherever it is you are headed, The DSB Buzz team is always looking for ways to support you as you venture beyond secondary education. 

For this issue, we will be discussing ways to help you prepare for your post-high school experiences and we will be delving further into the different options beyond high school that are available to BVI youth. What are you waiting for? Let’s go! 

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Theorius is wearing a black and white striped t-shirt with a jean jacket, and a pair of black earbuds. They are Caucasian, and they have colorful glasses and short, shaggy, brown hair. They are pointing at the camera with their right hand and sitting in a chair, smiling casually. Behind them is a wooden wardrobe and a flag hanging vertically with three stripes: pink on the left, yellow in the middle, and blue on the right

The Benefits of Trade School

By Theorius Wheeler
The DSB Buzz Reporter

After high school there can be a large amount of pressure to go to college and get a degree. However, college may not be the best option for everyone. I interviewed Miranda McPherson and Cathy Johnson to learn about their experiences working in a trade job and going through the necessary training. 

Both women spoke highly of their experiences, both in training and the job itself. Miranda, an Assistive Technology Instructor, said that the best part of her job is “being able to give people back the independence that they may feel like they lost.” Cathy, who is also an Assistive Technology Instructor, agreed and said that helping others was the most rewarding part of her career. 

While their jobs do have a degree prerequisite, just like in most other trade careers, both women had to go through and pass specialized training in order to be certified to perform their jobs. Researching what training program would be right for you is vital according to Miranda, who said that knowing your options and taking advantage of every resource available will be very important as you move forward. 

When it comes to getting the most out of your training program, Cathy said that it is important to know what you want to get out of the program, and to be assertive about it. Having a support system and talking to them about potential options is a great way to ease the decision-making process.

Working in a trade job can have many benefits, such as the ability to be self-employed, many certifications cost less than a college degree, and it is often faster than going to college. 

Whether you decide to go to trade school, college, or neither, it is important to weigh your options, and do what fulfills your needs the best.

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May is Vietnamese, she has long black hair and she has black glasses. She is wearing a black turtleneck with jeans and a black jacket. She is wearing silver earrings, a silver necklace, and a black belt with a silver buckle. There is a stone structure on her left and a tree on her right.

Getting Ready for Scholarships!

By May Tran
The DSB Buzz Reporter

Scholarships, scholarships, scholarships – an endless mantra that adds an additional worry to our plates as university application season rolls around. Scholarship applications themselves can be just as demanding and tedious as university applications, and they often entail various phases that many students have never encountered before: interviews, extended essays, portfolios, etc. 

However, with the right preparation, the scholarship process can be less of a stressor and more of a reward; there is nothing more fulfilling than reflecting upon your achievements, passions, and ambitions as a student. Scholarships provide an opportunity for students to show what makes them unique or what makes them driven as an individual, and it also serves as a chance for you to expand upon your existing skillsets. 

As young adults within the BVI community, most of us have at least two categories of scholarships to choose from; those specified for blind/visually impaired students, and those with general requirements that most students can apply to. Of course, there are different types of scholarships available to students of all experiences, backgrounds, and identities, however in this following article we will be sharing some tips and tricks for scholarships specifically for BVI students, which could then also be applied to general scholarships that most students typically encounter. 

Every year, the National Federation of the Blind of Washington (NFBW) and Washington Council of the Blind (WCB) offer state level scholarships that are available to students with visual disabilities. These scholarships, like most scholarships specialized for BVI youth, entail a process that includes a general application, essay, and interview. 

This year, I was given the opportunity to speak to the co-chairs of the NFBW scholarship committee, and through our conversations we have compiled some tips and tricks that are designed to prepare students who are interested in applying to both the NFBW and WCB scholarship openings. However, the advice provided by the co-chairs were also similar to the advice provided by the committee members of high school scholarship foundation committees that I have spoken to in the past, thus the following list of tips and tricks may be useful to keep in mind when applying to scholarships of all types! 

The Essay 

In the beginning stages, students are asked to provide an essay that details the student’s abilities, academic achievements, community leadership, future goals, and philosophy of blindness. When completing this portion, you should:

  1. Be honest and genuine! Although the essay asks you to elaborate upon your achievements and community leadership, this is your chance to show how these experiences have built your character, perspectives, and uniqueness. Rather than just listing what you have accomplished, show the committee how these accomplishments matter in the broader scope of your collegiate ambitions. 
  2. Be positive when speaking of your perspectives on blindness. When elaborating upon your philosophy of blindness, it is important to keep in mind the key principles of the organization you are submitting your application to. Both the NFBW and WCB have positive outlooks on blindness, thus it would be helpful to design your essay in a way that shows how blindness has shaped your journey rather than how blindness has been the downfall of your endeavors. How have your experiences as a blind or visually impaired individual impacted the directions you are headed? How have they made you a stronger individual? In what ways have you learned from them? 
  3. Show what makes you unique. When discussing your goals and passions, go into detail on how your ambitions will make a greater impact. In what ways will your goals impact those around you? How do you plan on going about achieving these goals? How can your skills be used to achieve your goals? How do your goals, passions, and abilities set you apart from your peers? 

The Interview 

For the typical final stages, you will be asked to participate in an interview where you will be discussing the information you have provided so far (and then some) with a committee member. The key to this stage is to provide a deeper understanding of the concepts you’ve made so far in your essay, and you will find that committee members will be more interested in getting to know you as an individual rather than just an applicant. In this stage, you should: 

  1. Be yourself! The committee wants to see who you are and what makes you unique as an individual. Answer the questions they ask honestly, and don’t be too focused on providing a textbook-perfect answer. Debrief slightly on concepts you have already elaborated upon within your essay but use this as an opportunity to tell them more about yourself, what you’re interested in/passionate about, and what you bring to the table as an individual. 
  2. Stay on track. Pay attention to the question that is being asked. It is a common occurrence for applicants to go a little off track when answering a question that is a bit broader in scope. Although detail is a good thing, make sure you are discussing a topic that is relevant to the questions. And, when in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask the committee clarifying questions! 
  3. Show that you are passionate. It is more likely than not to encounter questions like “Why do you deserve to receive this scholarship?” when undergoing a scholarship interview. Although some may be thrown off by this question, take this as a chance to show how much you want this opportunity. Think back to why you’re going to college in the first place: What differences do you want to make in your life and the lives of others? What has made you be the person you are today, and how does the person you wish to become deserve this opportunity? 

All in all, the application process for any scholarship can be fairly stressful. With different requirements, deadlines, and criteria to consider, the key to winning a scholarship is not a one-size-fits-all tool. However, the tips we have provided so far should be a good starting point. Overall, most scholarship committees are looking to know you, who you are, and what kind of contributor to society you will become.

Remember that you are more than just one applicant out of the many; you’re a unique student that has something to bring to the table whether it be your perspectives, experiences, or ideas. Be yourself first and foremost, and you’ll find that the rest of the process will come with ease as you move forward. 

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What's new with DSB Youth Services?

By DSB Buzz Staff

Hi DSB youth and families! It has been great seeing so many of you via Zoom over the last couple of years. The youth services team has spent a lot of time developing comprehensive youth programs that students would enjoy participating in online. We also know that there is so much value and learning to be had when we are in person. With that said, we are excited to announce that we are moving forward with in person summer programs for the summer of 2022! Please be on the lookout for more information and application materials in your email inboxes in January!

We will also continue to offer a mix of local in-person activities and online workshops this school year which are accessible to students in all areas of the state. Of course, all workshops and programs are subject to moving online or being cancelled due the COVID 19 pandemic. 

To keep up to date on events and offerings, please continue to check your email, the DSB events page, and follow us on Facebook!

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Good Vibe Fridays 

Come join us the 2nd Friday of each month this school year from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. for Good Vibe Fridays! 

Blind and low vision peer leaders will lead students through accessible games and thoughtful conversations. These calls will take place over Zoom. If you are interested in joining, please sign up online or contact Jen at 360-999-3138 or jennifer.scheel@dsb.wa.gov. See you there!

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Financial Beginnings

The Financial Beginnings Workshops introduces students to key financial topics. Educators from Financial Beginnings Washington and BECU will teach real world saving, budgeting, and financial planning skills during these multi-week workshops.

Sign up by January 14, 2021. Contact Marcie.Ebarb@dsb.wa.gov with questions.

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Giving Back

Volunteering, donating, and service can help people manage stress, feel more connected to their communities, and increase self-confidence. Learn to create meaningful ways to do community service while learning important life skills such as money skills, budgeting, self-advocacy, and how to find the best deals!
Register online by December 6, 2021. Contact Janet at 206-906-5530 or janet.george@dsb.wa.gov with questions. Space is very limited so RSVP early.

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Previous Issues

DSB Buzz, Summer 2021 | El DSB Buzz, Verano del 2021 

DSB Buzz, Late Summer 2021