This guest post is by Shaun Michael Bernal, a cosmetology graduate who was accepted into Paul Mitchell The School Missouri Columbia. Shaun 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.

My name is Shaun. I was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska in August 1996 at 1:03pm! The same doctor that delivered my mom also delivered me! I almost died during pregnancy because my mom had placenta previa on the verge of placenta abruptio and toxemia. She was told that I would be very disabled but she said I was still her unexpected blessing because she had me at 16. Even so there was a lot of struggles when I was growing up. It was in Washington that I grew up. I went to multiple schools growing up because we moved around a lot.

I started having some behavioral issues in first grade however I was not officially diagnosed with PDD-NOS until I was 12 years old. My mom had to pull me out of the hospital shortly after my diagnosis to attend the funeral of my grandpa. There was so much going on in life at this point that I was not able to get the therapy for autism that others had received to help with things like communication and independent life skills.

We ended up moving to Missouri where my grandma lives so my mom could help her as she was getting older. Shortly after moving to Missouri I was able to complete my high school and graduate by participating in a Project Search internship. I then was able to graduate from Paul Mitchell School in Missouri Columbia with my cosmetology degree. During the year of the cosmetology program, I was still able to persevere even though I had several obstacles to overcome. The day I had long waited for when my cosmetology kit was given to me after I had completed the first CORE program ended in shock and grief when I received a phone call that my Dad’s body had been found and he had died suddenly at 44. Then on the first Father’s Day after my Dad died, I went to visit my favorite uncle so he could help me get through the day however the very next morning my favorite uncle had a massive stroke and died. Then I had to have surgery and missed a month of school to recover. Just as I was getting ready to graduate is when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit our local area. Despite all of these things happening I still kept motivated and graduated.

I am applying for a scholarship to be able to go back to Paul Mitchell for the Esthetician program so that I can also get my esthetician license. This way eventually I want to open up a full-service salon and spa for those with special needs. A place where no one is judged for being different and where no one is overwhelmed with sensory overload. This is my dream and dreams do come true!

Follow my journey on Facebook, my Facebook Fan Page, & Instagram!

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.