This guest post is by Alexander Michael Neimon, a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted into the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study Computer Science! Joshua 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. Can I ask for a favor? I’m trying to make this nonprofit self-sufficient so I can make this my full-time job supporting the special needs community and would appreciate you taking a minute before reading on to watch this video below and subscribing to our Youtube page here to get to learn more about the work we do in the community.
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.
Honestly ten years ago, I would never have predicted I would be earning straight A’s in school and able to attend the University of Wisconsin- Madison. At the age of three, I was diagnosed with autism. I was nonverbal and I struggled emotionally and socially. Everything was difficult for me and my days were filled with frustration and setbacks. I functioned high enough to know I was different from my peers and I wanted to be like them but wasn’t sure how to do that. I had an IEP and many adults assisted me with daily responsibilities such as my homework and interactive play. When I got to middle school age, I had a desire to be more than a boy with autism who needed an IEP to help him get through each day. In seventh grade, I took an exam that indicated I had a score high enough to take Algebra in eighth grade; my teacher did not recommend I take Algebra because she felt emotionally I would struggle and I wouldn’t be able to handle the rigor of the course. That is when I changed, really! I was able to persuade my teacher to allow me to take the course; I worked so hard, met with the teacher on a daily basis and earned all A’s. In high school I continued to take honors and even college courses and maintained a 4.0 GPA. Now in college, I work hard, effectively, a lot and continue to earn A’s. I face my challenges and I am driven to do my best.
In my personal life, growing up I did not have friends so I put my energy into public service. I really love giving back to my community that I love. I also wanted to be in the military but because of my autism diagnosis, I was devastated when I found out I could not serve my country so I volunteer. It allows me to think beyond myself and makes me so happy that I can do good for others. I know nothing comes for free. I love giving back to a community that has provided me with so many plentiful resources such as beautiful parks to walk in, a church that supports my spiritual well-being, and a school district that has provided me with an exceptional education and mentors that have taught me how to be a responsible adult.
The specific career choice that I have in mind at this time is to be a Computer Scientist. This desire first came to me in middle school. I was introduced to the game Portal Two. Portal Two is a puzzle platform game developed by Valve Software. I love that it is an innovative game for me to play. It is intellectually challenging and I have so much fun playing the game. It sparked in me the drive to provide similar positive experiences for people in the future; allowing them to solve puzzles, discover new story lines and give them hours of entertainment. I would love to work for Valve Software. However, I am open to other careers in Computer Science such as scientific research. My overall desire is to help advance technology. I know the employment prospects are excellent because many companies report it is hard to find highly skilled workers. I also plan to minor in Mandarin Chinese. I started to learn the language as a freshman; the more proficient I became, the more I appreciate and understand China’s past and present. I know that there are an increasing number of domestic and multinational companies that are seeking employees who have a background in multi- cultural studies as a way of dealing with the global market.
I used to be ashamed of my autism diagnosis but now I use it to drive me. Before I felt I had to prove myself to others; now my ambition is for myself and no one else. I label myself as eager; look out world, I have a lot of ambition and I plan to use my autism as my asset not my deficit.
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.