Michael Sciabarassi is a man on the move. The 18-year-old student is finishing up his senior year at Perkins School for the Blind while taking a class at Bunker Hill Community College. He’s parlayed his computer skills into a part-time job in Perkins’ Information Technology department and is learning how to cook.
He’s also been nominated for WCVB-TV Channel 5’s A-Plus award, which is given to high school seniors with a B average or higher who have overcome odds and are successful. The prize is scholarship money for college. Winners will be announced in May.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” said Sciabarassi, who has been visually impaired since birth. “It would certainly help me to afford my college education, because it’s expensive.”
Sciabarassi, who can see light and dark but not details, attended Lunenburg High School in Massachusetts before transferring to Perkins.
At Perkins, in addition to school work, Sciabarassi is learning life skills such as cooking, cleaning and navigating in unknown spaces.
“I’m working on using the microwave, because most of what I eat goes in the microwave,” he said, laughing. “I’ve learned how to change a light bulb, and how to vacuum.” He paused. “I’m still learning how to vacuum.”
One of his proudest accomplishments is traveling on his own to the Arsenal Mall in Watertown and ordering lunch by himself. It’s a skill he’ll need in the fall when he lives on campus at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he plans to study computer science.
“When Michael first came to Perkins, he was really shy,” said Denise Fitzgerald, a transition coordinator in Perkins’ Secondary Program. “Now he’s self-confident and outgoing, a real leader among his peers. The other students look up to him.”
Sciabarassi was interviewed at Perkins by Channel 5’s reporter Jim Lokay. Watch his story, originally broadcast on April 22, at the WCVB-TV website.