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Southern California Students with Learning Disabilities Honored for Their Soaring Achievements

Learning Ally award winners prove that dyslexia and related learning differences aren’t barriers to successful education

Outstanding students from Southern California who have succeeded in their educational goals despite challenges with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, were awarded the Winslow Coyne Reitnouer Scholastic Achievement Award in recognition of their accomplishments. The winners were honored at a reception on November 9th at the home of Winslow “Winnie” Reitnouer, who, along with her husband Lynn, has assisted students with learning disabilities in enriching their academic pursuits for many years.
“What a special time it was to have so many remarkable students come together to share their stories,” said Mrs. Reitnouer. Each individual was chosen for the award because I believe in them, and I look forward to hearing of their successes in the years to come.”
Students honored at the event included:
-Kaitlyn Brown-Nineteen-year-old water polo player Kaitlyn has not let learning disabilities keep her from pursuing her dreams of being a firefighter. Though she still struggles in the areas of math, reading and writing, Kaitlyn has developed fortitude and a strong work ethic, and is currently taking fire courses at Chaffey Community College with hopes of attending a fire academy.
-Darlene Gray-It wasn’t until she was in college that Darlene discovered she had a learning disability, but despite her struggles, she set her sights on becoming a nurse. Several years later, with help from Learning Ally and the Reitnouer scholarship, she is working as a licensed vocational nurse and pursuing her passion.
-Kate Guarino-Hailing from Washington D.C., Kate is a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School. Though reading has always been hard for Kate, she has developed the skills necessary to pursue her love of writing and storytelling.
-Keenan Jones-A San Diego native, twenty-year-old Keenan has thrived in school despite his struggles with dyslexia and is now pursuing his love of filmmaking in the prestigious cinema program at the University of Southern California.
-Grace Kuhlenschmidt-Grace did not let learning disabilities hold her back from chasing her goals, and is now a high achieving student and community leader at Skidmore College.
-Emma Lapin-Diagnosed with dyslexia in the fourth grade, Emma discovered a greater sense of independence as she learned to use assistive technology to complement her strong work ethic. She is now thriving at Washington University and headed toward a bright future.
-Isabelle Osterholt-As a high school student, Isabelle felt as though she was “drowning in a jumble of text,”, but that changed in 2012 when she was diagnosed with dyslexia. Now equipped with the right support, such as audio textbooks from Learning Ally, Isabelle is thriving at the University of Redlands.
-Peyton Pullen-Eighteen-year-old Peyton was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, and has had a difficult time reading her whole life. After years of hard work and encouragement from her supportive family, she is on a pre-med track at the University of Miami in Florida.
-Emily Shields-Diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade, Emily had a difficult time sounding out words and struggled through spelling tests. Over time she developed strong study habits, learned to use her strengths to her advantage, and found the right tools for support. Now she is completing her freshman year at Northern Arizona University, where she’s studying business administration marketing.
-Allison Stein-For as long as she can remember, Allison has known she was different because she struggled with language processing. Being formally diagnosed with dyslexia was a turning point for her, and she has since grown in her abilities and is currently on the honor roll at Chapman University.
All scholarship winners are receiving cash awards and recognition for their scholastic excellence, exemplary leadership and service to others; and all have thrived in education with the help of accessible educational content and assistive technology that Learning Ally provides.
About Learning Ally:
Founded in 1948, Learning Ally has helped millions of K-12, college and graduate students, veterans and lifelong learners – all of whom read and learn differently due to blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia or other learning disabilities. Through its support programs and audiobooks, Learning Ally enables families and teachers to help students thrive and succeed. The organization provides support to parents and students through events, webinars, personal consultations and other tools; and integrated learning management systems and professional development for teachers. In addition, Learning Ally’s collection of 80,000 human-narrated audio textbooks and literature titles can be downloaded to computers and mainstream smartphones and tablets, and is the largest of its kind in the world. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Learning Ally is partially funded by grants from state and local education programs, and the generous contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information, visit

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