Every year, we award $1,000 scholarships to five Texas high school students as part of our Extraordinary Scholarship program. This program is designed to support driven students on their educational journey, empowering them to achieve remarkable feats.  

One of our 2023 recipients, Izma, shared her journey of overcoming a speech impediment. Despite struggling to communicate with classmates growing up, Izma has demonstrated extraordinary resilience and now aspires to help others navigate similar challenges. 

How did Izma’s past shape her passion? 

According to Izma, her stutter made it difficult to connect with others during her formative years. “Every single day, words slipped through my fingers,” Izma shared. “Sometimes, words left my lips effortlessly. Other times, they got caught in my throat.” 

During her early school years, bullies took advantage of Izma’s vulnerability, teasing and mocking her stutter. For Izma, each day felt like navigating a daunting maze, turning even the simplest interactions into anxiety-inducing minefields. While her classmates engaged in effortless conversation, she stood on the sidelines, longing to participate but feeling trapped by her stutter. 

“They laughed at my awkward pauses as I tried to find the words,” Izma explained. “It felt like my voice had been muzzled.” 

How did Izma harness her experiences to bring about positive change? 

Izma devoted countless hours to honing her communication skills. Then, on May 24, 2023, Izma took the stage to deliver her valedictorian speech. As she spoke, Izma didn’t stutter once. All her hard work had paid off. “Naturally, my passion lies in helping others overcome their communication barriers,” she said.  

Izma dreams of becoming a skilled and influential speech-language pathologist to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those she assists. She wants to utilize technology and research to achieve the best results for individuals with communication disorders, and plans to participate in advocacy efforts to inspire future speech-language pathologists. 

“I want to empower others to embrace their voices and create meaningful connections,” Izma shared. “People with communication disorders often feel alienated from society. Even though people who stutter only make up 1% of the worldwide population, our voices and ideas should not be hindered by a stutter.” 

What is Izma up to now?  

Since winning our Extraordinary Scholarship, Izma spends most of her time studying at The University of Texas (UT) and is involved in many student organizations. She is involved in the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA), where students explore the field of Speech Language Pathology in-depth. In addition, Izma volunteers with Hearts for the Homeless, a group that provides free blood pressure checks to individuals without homes.  

Izma is also a part of UT’s student government, specifically working with the Disability Inclusion Agency to create a more accessible campus for students with physical and mental disabilities. Lastly, she contributes to the Lang Stuttering Institute Student Leadership Organization (LSI SLO), which advocates for students that stutter and supports the stuttering community post-graduation in both their interpersonal and professional lives. 

“I’ve had the chance to meet so many amazing people and make even more great memories,” said Izma. 

Daniel Stark’s Extraordinary Scholarship  

“I simply can’t express enough gratitude for The Extraordinary Scholarship,” Izma expressed. “It was an absolute lifeline, covering the last $1,000 I needed to make my school year completely free. Without it, my family would have faced overwhelming financial strain, making it difficult to focus on my education and enjoy my freshman year at UT Austin. I am truly grateful for the opportunity and support Daniel Stark’s scholarship has given me!” 

We are thankful for the chance to support Izma on her educational journey at The University of Texas. Our mission is to empower the next generation to make a positive impact, and we’re honored to share inspiring stories like Izma’s.   

Congratulations to all our 2023 scholarship winners!  

To apply for our 2024 Extraordinary Scholarship program, click here.