2023 Scholarship Recipient

2023 Arthur L. Ebert Scholarship Recipient: Jayquan Jaeger 

Jayquan Jaeger was born with glaucoma, which caused irreparable damage to his right eye and rendered his left eye not fully functioning and at risk for retinal detachment. He is considered legally blind.

However, his visual impairment has not held Jayquan back. He is an accomplished student and musician who has set his sights on a profession that is out of this world!

As he moves on to college, Jayquan’s message to other teens with disabilities is to enjoy the things they can do. He adds, “If you have the capacity to do something, do it.”


Until he was 14 years old, Jayquan was a competitive swimmer with both the Monona Swim and Dive Club and the Madison Aquatic Club. However, an eye surgery that improved his vision also ended his swimming career—doctors felt the force created when diving into the water off the starting blocks could cause an infection in the tube shunt that was put into his eye to lower the pressure from glaucoma. The risk to his eye health was just too great to continue.

So, Jayquan turned his focus to music. He plays the violin and viola and loves to sing. He is a member of the Madison Youth Choir (MYC) and the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra (WYSO), participating in many concerts with both, as well as performing with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. His passion for music led him to musical theater and acting, garnering him several leading and supporting roles in both community and high school plays. Jayquan considers himself a true extrovert; he loves spending time with others and working as part of a team.

Jayquan finished two years of high school at Robert M. La Follette High School in Madison with a GPA of 3.93, and then entered the Early College STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Academy at Madison College as part of a dual-enrollment program for the next two years. He received dual credit for high school and college, receiving 55 credits and a GPA of 3.72. He also was in the Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program for 11 years and has almost earned a certificate in Spanish from Madison College.

Jayquan has exhibited great tenacity in overcoming the challenges of everyday life, and his vision loss has never prevented him from doing what he loves.

Jayquan’s mother, Dannie, shares this about her son: “The thing that impresses us the most is his unshakable confidence in who he is. His disability doesn’t define who he is, but it is part of all that makes him amazing, and he embraces that.”

Current Plans

Jayquan will be a freshman this fall at the University of Wisconsin – Madison where he intends to major in Theater and Astronomy. His career goal is to be an astrophysicist. What he loves about this profession is that it combines his love of science and the stars and doesn’t limit him to being just one kind of scientist, such as a physicist, chemist or biologist—he can be all of them at the same time!

And Jayquan has a number of believers in his corner.

Jayquan’s case manager through the Madison Metropolitan School District is very impressed by him, stating “Jayquan has a true love for learning, and the STEM academy has allowed him to explore his passions in science, technology, engineering, and math . . . He is a serious student who works hard for his achievements in school . . . He also is a strong self-advocate.”

Further, one of Jayquan’s teachers at La Follette High School says this about her student: “Jayquan is an incredibly intelligent, well-rounded, hardworking, and respectful young man . . . Jayquan is the most talented and active participant in school and community activities that I have ever met. He has had the lead role in the play and musical for both his junior and senior years at LHS. His level of commitment and dedication to these performances shows just how much Jayquan gives his best effort into whatever he is passionate about to perform at a high level . . . Finally, Jayquan has been a valuable resource to professors at UW-Madison in providing feedback to ensure science materials are in accessible formats to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. He has offered thoughtful insight based on his experiences in science classes as well as living with a visual impairment.”

Update on Jayquan

With this scholarship, Jayquan is studying Vocal Performance and Theater at UW-Madison.  In addition to a strong academic schedule, he has been able to dive into college activities including being part of the theater production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and the musical Wine in the Wilderness.  Jayquan also has enjoyed meeting new people while singing with Fundamentally Sound, a student-run a cappella singing group.   

Asked for advice he would give to other young people living with vision loss, Jayquan says, “Find people who are willing to understand and accommodate.  Even if it’s just one or two people who can help, it’s better than trying to do it on your own.  Go out and do stuff.  I promise, it’s more fun.”