This guest post is by Nazhir Carter, a young man on the autism spectrum who was accepted into Prairie View A&M University. Nazhir 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.
In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Why fit in when you were born to standout?” I am Nazhir Carter, Honors Freshman at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) majoring in Communications with a minor in Music. Like many high school graduates of the 2020 class, I was apprehensive to attend college during a pandemic. Much of my apprehension was due to the ongoing changes and challenges in our educational system; particularly online learning. Nonetheless, attending college during this time has been the best decision I could have made for myself, but there were many who doubted that my collegiate aspirations were even attainable.
Many people tried to deter me from attending college because they felt it was unachievable for me due to being diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. When I was 6-years-old, I was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder. Living with autism has encouraged me to embrace my imperfections, for no one is perfect.
Growing up, I recall my mother’s frustration, spending a great deal of time researching, and trying to find additional tools and resources that were available for me outside of school. The resources in my school were limited and didn’t pertain to my particular needs. The lack of services available to help people in the autism community is an understatement, considering how vast the autism spectrum is. As an African American male growing up and living with autism, life has been difficult to say the least, especially with all the limitations and labels that society tries to place on individuals like me.
As a student living with a disability, unfortunately, I have also had my share of educators doubting my capabilities. I am reminded of a time when I shared with a teacher my aspirations to attend college. The teacher informed me that college is a “Luxury” and may not be attainable for me due to my disability. Over the years, those words have resonated with me and became part of my “Why.” Instead of receiving encouragement to support my dreams, or providing information for services, programs, or resources to help nourish and guide my career goals, I felt discouraged and helpless. That moment was significant in my life but fueled my ambition to transition myself into this new chapter. Those words became my driving force in achieving my educational goals.
Fall of 2020, I decided to turn what was considered a “luxury” into my “reality”. I embarked on a new journey in my life, making the choice to invest in myself and further my education at Prairie View A&M University. By furthering my education, my plans are to pursue a career in the field of Music Technology. Currently, I work with PVTV and in the fall of 2021, I will be assisting the PVAMU Marching Storm Band on the media team as a sound engineer. The university’s Communications and Music departments are a step above the rest. Professors and staff within the programs seek out young scholars such as myself; providing exposure and guidance in a field that influences a large population of my peers. Through these supportive efforts, it has provided me the opportunity to focus on my career goals taking my passion for music and bringing it to life by creating innovative technological possibilities through music and media. This experience is preparing me to break down the barriers that I felt once constrained me. Prairie View produces productive people and has allowed me to build the confidence that I need to identify with myself and be proud of the gifts and talents I have to offer my community.
I appreciate the encouragement and opportunities that Prairie View has provided with assisting me in reaching my educational goals. I have found a generous amount of support from the Office of Student Disability Services as well as my professors, coaches, and academic advisors. Where I struggled to gain this type of support in the past from the educational leaders in my life, the staff of Prairie View has provided a great support system that has allowed me to thrive and spread my wings to be able to reach new heights in my educational endeavors. One of my greatest achievements has been attaining a 3.85 GPA in my first semester, while also being given the opportunity to join the PVAMU Men’s track team, and being recognized on the Dean’s List/ Honor Roll during the university’s Honors Program.
In life, you will face many defeats, the key is never to let yourself be defeated. Living with autism, I have learned to become a better me through the things that help challenge me in my life. Every opposition and every difficulty I successfully confront serves to strengthen my will, confidence, and ability to conquer future obstacles by encouraging others in the autism community to not give up when they feel defeated. My hope and desire is that my journey shows others who are like me that living with autism and other disabilities, have confidence in knowing that when people try to discourage you by implying something is “Impossible” for you, write your own story and show them that “All things are Possible.”
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.