Anna Ewing has been on the path to her dream job since she was 7 years old.

At the time, her mother worked at a group home for children with disabilities, and one day she asked Ewing to play with Ripley, a young girl with autism. The two forged an instant connection, and a lifelong friendship was born. “I didn’t see anything different — we were just playing,” says Ewing. “Growing up, I never understood the difference between kids with developmental disabilities and those without.”

Ewing became a champion for people with developmental disabilities. Then, when she was a teenager, a life-changing event made her advocacy even more personal.

At 16, Ewing was diagnosed with brain cancer. After multiple surgeries and radiation, she began the long road to recovery. While her cancer went into remission, Ewing began to suffer from seizures that forced her to leave high school.

Despite these challenges, she persevered. At 21, she earned her high school diploma, becoming the first person in her family to graduate. And today, Ewing is a student in the College of Education’s Master of Special Education program. She’s on track to become a board-certified behavior analyst, meaning she’ll be able to work one-on-one with people on the autism spectrum. This fall, Ewing will also start work at the Academy of Precision Learning, an inclusive school for children with and without disabilities.

During Ewing’s graduate studies, support such as the Clyde and Judy Pitcher Endowed Scholarship has helped her stay the course. “Teaching and working with young people has always been important to us,” says Judy Pitcher. With four generations of teachers in their families — including Judy, who graduated from the UW College of Education in 1956 — the Pitchers didn’t want cost to be a barrier for the next generation of educators. “We believe in the importance of having highly trained teachers,” Pitcher says. “Creating opportunities for all people who want to teach, regardless of their economic status, provides our schools with the very best educators.”

In addition to working toward her degree, Ewing has continued to devote her free time to helping others with disabilities. While she still sees Ripley regularly, Ewing also meets with young adults with various disabilities, motivating them to achieve their own goals.

“I love this work so much,” Ewing says, “and scholarships are the only reason I was able to continue with my education. If it weren’t for them, going back to school would not have been something I could do.”

Give to the UW College of Education’s Tomorrow’s Great Teachers Today Scholarship Fund and support future educators like Anna Ewing who are dedicated to serving all students.