Blind student earns scholarship to honors college in Louisiana

Blind student earns scholarship to honors college in Louisiana
Chloe Ashford

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Chloe Ashford holds up three small clay ghosts she made over the Halloween season.

For the 17-year-old, they're more than just a fun art project. They remind her of the moment she realized her potential.

"It teaches me a lot about the world that I can't quite grasp, being that I can't see," Ashford said. "So, learning the techniques of making things appear on a canvas and showing pictures that connect with the sighted world makes me, in turn, feel connected with people with sight."

Ashford has Optic Nerve Coloboma, a condition she's had since birth that's rendered her blind.

On Thursday, Ashford will graduate as the class valedictorian from the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired in Baton Rouge. In the fall, she'll be attending Louisiana Scholar's College on a scholarship. That's the honors college at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches.

To put that in perspective, the college itself is highly selective, and Ashford will be one of only a few students in the history of LSVI to attend a four-year institution.

"There is a very low employment rate amongst visually impaired people and also a very low rate among people who finish high school or college. It's just that if I can contribute to raising that number in any way, then I most certainly want to," Ashford added.

She will not be on any special curriculum and she'll do the same coursework as every other student. She uses Braille to read and write. It's a written language that she's used since she was three years old, where she feels bumps on a sheet and uses a word processor to write.

Before transferring to LSVI, Chloe attended public school in Denham Springs, where she did feel a little isolated. But after her success in high school, she feels ready for the new challenge in Natchitoches.

"It will be a transition, but it's nothing I can't handle. I know that now I have enough personality that I can. I don't have to have my blindness define me, ever," she explained.

She will either study psychology or women's studies. She will also be competing at the National Braille Championships in Los Angeles in June.

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