Jeremy Morak, a senior at George W. Hewlett High School, is one of 16 legally-blind students nationwide to receive a $10,000 college scholarship from The Jewish Guild for the Blind. Morak submitted essays about an inspirational teacher and his own ability to persevere despite being blind.
Morak suffers from juvenile retinoschisis, an inherited disease typically diagnosed in childhood that causes progressive loss of central and peripheral vision due to retinal degeneration.
"I try to be as much [like] everyone else as possible," said Morak, 17, of his work ethic. "I really don't let my blindness affect me. I always have a lot of confidence in myself."
To function in the classroom, Morak has used everything from a laptop equipped with ZoomText magnifying software to a standard magnifying glass to a rotating high-powered camera that he points at the blackboard to enlarge what's written there.
Teachers also supply Morak with their notes in a PowerPoint format so he can follow along more easily on a laptop.
"He doesn't really battle his vision, he works around it," said his mother, Marsha. "It's never been a source of anger."
Morak is a member of his school's National and Business honor societies, Model Congress, and track team. He plans to major in business this fall at the University of Michigan.