This guest post is by Kaidence Stowers, a young man on the autism spectrum who was accepted into California State University, Fresno. Kaidence is applying for the Spring 2021 Making a Difference Autism Scholarship via the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference started by me, Kerry Magro. I was nonverbal till 2.5 and diagnosed with autism at 4 and you can read more about my organization here.
I hope you can support my nonprofit like I’m trying to support these students with scholarship aid for college. Learn more on how you can help our cause with a small donation (just asking for $3 today, equal to your daily cup of coffee) here.
Growing up with autism made me feel like a label, although it took doctors many labels (speech delays, OCD) before diagnosing me with ASD. It made me feel different, out of control, at fault and like I did not belong. It took a long time for me to recognize that I was not that label and that so many things were missing when people described me. I express my creative side through my passion of engineering, music and art. I have always enjoyed learning, experimenting, and engineering different structures and objects. When I was younger I wanted to be able to engineer prosthetic arms for those who lost a limp during their military service. I built a prototype handout of popsicle sticks and rubber bands. Since then I have continued my passion for engineering through participating in the Hercules High School Robotics club, building robots, and learning about coding.
I build model Exo suites, rockets, and robotic helmets. Aside from engineering, I express my creativity through music and art. I enjoy playing different types of instruments including guitar, piano, drums and ukulele. I feel I can express emotions through music and music is a way to connect to other people. Through creating music, playing musical instruments and producing beats I am able to express a mood that those listening can feel. Music is a great way that I can also show people that they are not alone. It connects people and makes them happy. Art is another way I express my creativity. Through drawing current events, realism, cartoons, and anime, I am able to express my thoughts and creativity. My newest art projects are designing and customizing shoes. My creativity is one of the top strengths that I am able to connect with people and show that I am not a label but have so many strengths and great things about me.
I know that I can still be smart and learn more even if others think that I am different. I can still succeed in my goals and prove them wrong. I have done that before and used this mentality to help me overcome challenges. It helps to have the right mindset and never give up. Even if I fall, there is still room for improvement if you don’t give up, and that is how I worked my way up. I don’t let disabilities hold me back from setting and accomplishing high goals, interacting and giving back to my community, and continuing to gain knowledge so I can make a difference. I feel like I can inspire others that it does not matter what kind of disability you have, no one can tell you or make you feel that you are lesser than them, and that with persistence you can work your way up.
I started from a place of struggling in school and social interactions, to work my way up in educational achievements and accomplishing various awards. I have received the African American Student of Honor award, Principal’s Honor Roll, 4.0 GPA multiple semesters, Community Service Certificate, and the Judge Award at PIE (Pioneers in Engineering) Robotics UC Berkeley. By my Sophomore year in high school, I joined the Hercules High School drumline where we performed for various community service events, sporting events and student of honor ceremonies. It took a lot of dedication and commitment to learn and work as part of a team to perform at a high level. I also joined the Hercules High School Robotics club where I worked with a team to learn to build and compete in robotics competitions, learned coding for Python, and participated in robotics camps.
I competed in track competitions where I came in 3rd for Freshman Pacer and was able to take home 1st place out of all the school Sophomores my second year in high school. I also recently got a job working at a pizza restaurant where I am growing my skills. I am not my disability. I am my own person. I hope I inspire others that you can be what you want to be through persistence and hard work.
My name is Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum that started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue a post-secondary education. Help support me so I can continue to help students with autism go to college by making a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here.