OT: Blind Student Wins Rhodes Scholarship

Janina Sajka janina at rednote.net
Tue Dec 10 11:28:25 EST 2002

For those who don't know, the Rhodes Scholarships are annually awarded to a handful of graduating seniors in the U.S. Awardees attend Oxford University
in England for two years. It's one of the most prestiguous honors a college graduate can get in the U.S.

Herewith a story from the Seattle Times:

Two state students get Rhodes honors
Full story: 

By Jason Margolis
Seattle Times staff reporter

A COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY senior from Kirkland and a Georgetown 
University graduate from Spokane will go to Oxford.

Two college students from Washington were selected for the centennial class 
of Rhodes scholars. Cyrus Habib of Kirkland, who attends Columbia 
University, and Anthony House from Spokane, a Georgetown University 
graduate, will join 30 other Americans next fall at Oxford University in 

Habib, 21, studies English, comparative literature and Mideast studies as 
an undergraduate senior, but in his spare time dabbles in computer 
programming and has designed a program to convert text applications to 
speech using the Linux operating system. He is a published photographer, 
studies martial arts and is a downhill skier.

And he's blind.

Habib, the son of Mo Habib and Susan Amini, was diagnosed with retinal 
blastoma, a cancer of the eye, at the age of 9. He was treated with 
chemotherapy and radiation, and his retinas were removed to excise the tumors.

Born in Maryland but raised in Bellevue after he was 9, Habib attended the 
International School from the sixth through the 12th grades. He said being 
a disabled student at a public school was a struggle, especially fighting 
for supplies to accommodate his blindness.

  Learning from that frustrating experience, Habib said he has fought to 
improve the quality of education for students with disabilities. Besides 
designing a free computer program to help blind students work on computers, 
Habib is the president of the campus group "Columbians Organized for 
Disability Advocacy."

Habib also uses his artistry to help present a voice for the blind. As a 
photographer, he recently was commissioned by the Princeton Architectural 
Press to take photos of New York City.

"The photos were taken walking around different neighborhoods, based on my 
experiences of the city, looking at how we imagine visually without using 
the eyes," he said yesterday.

Habib hasn't picked his exact course of study for Oxford yet; he just 
learned of his award on Saturday. But he would like to use the coveted 
scholarship to study comparative literature, English and Middle Eastern 
texts. "By virtue of Britain's relationship with the Mideast and Africa, 
Oxford has a wealth of resources on Middle East culture and literature."

Besides the actual words, Habib says he wants to continue his academic 
focus on the way we learn "with our sense of visuals versus auditory versus 

After the two-year stint in England, Habib plans to return to the U.S. and 
attend law school. Habib has worked for lawyer-turned-senator Hillary 
Clinton, the wife of another famous Rhodes scholar.

  Spokane's House, who turns 22 tomorrow, earned Georgetown's highest award 
in history as a graduating senior and an award for his community service. 
He is now working with the homeless in Portland and plans to earn a 
master's in economics and social history at Oxford.

				Janina Sajka, Director
				Technology Research and Development
				Governmental Relations Group
				American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

Email: janina at afb.net		Phone: (202) 408-8175

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