This guest post is by Alyssa Aey, a young woman on the autism spectrum who will graduate from High School in 2021. Alyssa 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.
Many might say that my greatest strengths lie in my incredible memory, consistent dependability, and deep passions, but my greatest assets aren’t my innate ones. My greatest strengths are the character traits and perspectives that I have gained from overcoming my personal challenges.
While many might say that I have been “diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome”, I prefer to refer to myself as neurodiverse, to reflect that my way of interpreting the world is not a medical deficit, but rather a type of diversity that I can use to better enhance the world around me. Because of the unique way my brain functions, I tend to process information more intensely. During my early school years, this presented many challenges as I was placed on an individualized education plan in elementary school to help me align with my peers in a school that wasn’t designed for a brain like mine. However, I was determined to succeed without any accommodations. This decision came with a tremendous amount of hard work, but this led me to develop the character traits of determination and grit. Acquiring these traits has allowed me to excel in high school without needing accommodations, as I refuse to settle for mediocrity and consistently seek new ways to push myself further. I also take great pride in the fact that I will be able to advocate for a new type of diversity, neurodiversity, in college and in my future career in the legal field.
In addition to challenging myself in school, learning from the autism community has also transformed the way I think about myself. Growing up, I was hesitant to talk about the fact that I had been identified as having Asperger’s Syndrome because I viewed it as something I should be ashamed of. However, when I was in middle school I began reading articles and books from authors on the autism spectrum. I was introduced to the neurodiversity ideology, and learned about how embracing neurodiversity can lead to greater diversity of thought in an institution. Because of the major way that the autism community changed the way I think about myself, I am passionate about growing the neurodiversity movement in my community, and my goal is to open new doors for neurodiverse students at my future college.
Because of the way my character has evolved, I desire to further grow my understanding of different perspectives by taking advanced classes and being involved in a variety of organizations. I also dream of expanding my horizons by traveling to different countries, and learning about a diverse variety of individuals and cultures. My hope is that I will be able to inspire with my story, as well as learn from others. Above all, however, I look forward to applying these learned character traits and perspectives to enhance my career. As a future attorney, my hope is that this broader perspective prepares me well to advocate for as well as find justice and truth for those who may not be able to make their voices heard on their own.
When I meet new people, I hope they embrace the fresh perspectives that I bring and are inspired by my unwavering drive for success. The traits that I have developed from overcoming my personal challenges will foster excellence in my future studies and law career. I fully intend to use my drive and perseverance to make a positive impact in my lifetime and leave a strong legacy of inspiring others to cherish true diversity, inclusion, and appreciation for all.
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.