Awarded to an undergraduate or graduate student who is pursuing a degree in teacher education. When possible, preference should be given to students with severe visual impairments. Established by James H. Burke (BA '49) in memory of his niece, Judith Saunders (BA '68).

More about Judith Young Sanders

Judith was born sighted, but lost her vision after surgery for a brain tumor when she was seven years old.  Her disability did not stop her from choosing the profession of her grandmother and mother, and she found success despite the fact that she was blind and often had to fight for her acceptance.  Although University of Iowa officials initially resisted admitting her to the College because of concerns about her disability, Judy became the first blind student to earn her teaching degree at The University of Iowa.  She became Iowa’s first sightless public school teacher when she took on her first teaching position at Olmsted School in Urbandale. 

In 1969 Judy married her husband, Curtis, a chiropractor who was also blind.  They moved to Devils Lake, North Dakota, where she became the only blind teacher working in the state.  While she initially faced resistance from parents, they eventually accepted her and Judy noted that her blindness presented an opportunity for her students to learn in new ways.  After one semester she left teaching to raise the first of her three sons and did not return to the classroom.  In 1981 she died of cancer at age 36.

Recent recipients

  • 2017 - Allison Barr, Grace Junkins
  • 2016 - Janessa Davis, Morgan Vana
  • 2015 - Bobbie Clark, Ayla Polton
  • 2014 - Micaela Haight, Danielle Oakes>
  • 2013 - Ashley Kielty
  • 2012 - Alexander Rummelhart
  • 2011 - Jennifer Ortigoza