International Dyslexia Association Awards Certificate of Merit to SJU Student, Advocate

Monday, November 2, 2015

by Elizabeth Krakoviak '17

PHILADELPHIA (November 2, 2015) – Saint Joseph’s University student Will Marsh’18 has received the 2015 Remy Johnston Certificate of Merit by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA).

Marsh received the award at the IDA Annual Conference, held in Grapevine, Texas, October 28-31. The resident of Rahway, N.J., spoke at the conference to IDA branch presidents, the general assembly and students about his personal experience with dyslexia.

A political science major and educational studies minor, Marsh is thrilled to receive the award. 

“I was both honored and surprised by the news,” says Marsh. “I feel very fortunate to be recognized with this award for my leadership skills and advocacy work.”

The Remy Johnston Certificate of Merit recognizes students with dyslexia who strive for excellence, enrich their communities, refuse to use their learning difference as an excuse and are distinguished role models. The award was established in memory of Remy Johnston, a student with dyslexia whose life was tragically cut short in February 1989, a few months prior to his graduation from Wooster College.

Marsh was nominated by Carolyn Berenato, Ed.D., assistant professor of special education. The two collaborated on Marsh’s 2015 Summer Scholars research project that focused on students with dyslexia and their families. They originally created a resource guide for students in Pennsylvania and New Jersey but decided to extend their work nationally after receiving interest from other organizations.

“Will has proven to be a committed student who displayed initiative, curiosity and an interest in learning all he can about students with dyslexia,” says Berenato.

Marsh is the founder of Spotlight on Dyslexia, now a nationwide virtual conference. A graduate of Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains, N.J., he created the conference as a local event during his senior year of high school to provide information to students with dyslexia, their parents and their teachers. In 2014, Marsh moved the conference online, garnering 1,000 viewers. This year he hopes to host between 1,500 and 2,000 participants.

“Each time an event like this is done, we hear from parents and educators that they learn something new, and that it will help with their student,” says Marsh. “I am confident that we will hear that again this year.”

The University Student Senator has continued his advocacy work at SJU with the celebration of a new event held on campus on October 15 – World Dyslexia Awareness Day. Marsh worked with Christine Mecke, Ed.D., director of student disability services, and facilities management, to light Barbelin Bell Tower in red to raise awareness for the one in five people who have dyslexia.

Marsh plans to use his experience to become a professional special education advocate, with a particular focus on those with learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.

Media Contact

Patricia Allen, Director of Communications, 610-660-3240,

Expand this section