Campus: Sonoma State University -- February 18, 2005
Amy Pitchforth - A Blind Student Scholar with a Sense of
Being blind is one challenge.
Teaching a classroom full of kids is another.
Such is the attitude of Amy Pitchforth, a Sonoma State University senior whose
motto of "living adventurously" often leads her to try everything from scuba
diving to rock climbing. In spite of being born legally blind, there isn't
anything this young woman does not try to overcome.
This year she was named the Ambrose R Nichols Scholar by the SSU Alumni Association.
She is one of the youngest seniors on campus at the age of 20 and has a GPA of
Since the age of seven, Pitchforth has mastered the ability to get around with the
aide of her cane and her keen ability to memorize everything. Her daily travels
wouldn't be complete without her trusted companion and guide dog Gaynore, a
"Gaynore gives me confidence and is always there to give me a hug," she says. She
also enjoys encouragement and morale support from her mother Sharon.
Every semester, Amy overcomes the strenuous task of finding class materials in
Braille needed to succeed in class to maintain her 4.0 GPA. "It's a challenge to
get professors to understand what it's like to learn while being blind," she says.
In lectures, she says "the professor will say 'Now let's look at this' or 'Watch
this slideshow' without realizing that I can't participate."
An ambitious double major in psychology and liberal studies, she is also studying
for a Multisubject Teaching Credential as well as a Spanish bilingual teaching
She recently finished one semester of student teaching at Gold Ridge Elementary
School in Rohnert Park. She is also a big sister to two sorority sisters from
Alpha Gamma Delta where she is Vice President of Scholarship. She is also
currently serving as the Vice Chair of the Student Union Board of Directors at
Pitchforth aspires to be an elementary teacher. "It's really exciting to experience
the moment when a child reaches a level of understanding and to watch their
expressions," said Pitchforth. This coming fall semester, Pitchforth will get
hands-on experience in being a student teacher.
Even though Pitchforth looks eastbound to schools like Yale and Harvard to continue
her academic career in educational psychology, she still takes the time to enjoy
all the adventures found in California. Rollerblading, rock climbing, and scuba
diving are all of her favorite past times. "It's the only way to experience life,"
"I like to hear and feel everything around me in the ocean...it's free forming."
Only someone as in tune to their other senses as Pitchforth would notice the
difference in ocean sounds between the tropical island of Maui and the coast of
Contact: Jean Wasp, Media Relations Coordinator, (707) 664-2057