This guest post is by Sienna Hope, a young woman on the autism spectrum who was accepted into Louisiana State University. Sienna 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.

I have learned to cope with a lot of things in my life and have had to overcome even more. When people think of me, they think resilient. I was diagnosed when I was 2-1/2 years old and in public school at the age of 3. I was bullied, my grandparents and my dad passed away, my mom has had cancer twice, so I am not sure where to begin.

When my dad passed away it was unexpected and at a very young age left me to take care of my sick mother. I would not change my reaction, it was very hard to adapt and cope. I just began accepting my mom was sick. I had no time to process and cope with losing my dad. So many things at once being thrown at me, put me in a complete overload, and I shut down for just a little bit until my mind so to speak could catch up. If I had not learned and continued to grow with all of the coping skills and working through them I do not know how I possibly would have made it through all of this.

I began to play sports as just an outlet for myself. It was to have fun, get my aggression out, to learn more social interaction, and maybe make a few friends. Playing sports also taught me what a team was and how they had my back so I can have my mom’s. As far as fans of course my mom is my number one. No matter how bad she was feeling she found a way to come to almost every one of my games if she was not in the hospital. From watching her, I learned I can never give up or give in. That has become my motto so to speak over life. Without this motto, I would have not been accepted into 20 colleges.

I wanted to stay local and go to the University of Houston, so I could be close to my mom to make sure she was ok. She told me that it is my time to go shine and she would be fine. I chose LSU, as when I stepped out of the car during our campus visit it felt like home. I honestly did not think I would get into college because I did not receive a sports scholarship. My mom was always telling me to work hard and practice so I can get a scholarship to go to college. So, when COVID-19 shut everything down, I did not have an opportunity to get a scholarship my big year and I was crushed. My mom had me go through the application process for college teaching me another lesson in coping and life along the way. I keep telling her “what I did all of this with my brain mom?”. She would laugh and say, “yes, mija you did”.

The reason my mom was pushing me for those scholarships is that we had not expected my dad to pass away while my mom was sick. We went from two incomes to one income with bills and treatments piling up. My mom sat me down and talked to me and gave me the choice. She asked if she could use my college fund to pay bills and to use for her doctors and treatments. Without hesitation, I told her “yes.”

I realize now after being accepted to so many schools that furthering my education is more important than ever. I want to keep giving back and showing people they can overcome so much. LSU was unfortunately the only college that did not offer me a merit-based scholarship. I am wanting to show my mom I can do this, and I know she taught me to work harder for things that I want. It is impossible without scholarships for me to obtain my goal of becoming a lawyer. I want to make an impact in this world and leave it a better place by continuing to do good for others.

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.