This guest post is by Felix a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted into and will attend Loyola University of Chicago in the Fall of 2020 with a major in Multimedia Journalism. Felix is applying for the Spring 2020 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 and how to apply for my scholarship here. 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 here.
The things that seemed so obvious to them were puzzles to me. It started with little jabs of how I “didn’t get it.” It proceeded to evolve into harassment from both students and faculty at my middle school on a consistent, daily, basis. I would get yelled at by teachers for not understanding what they perceived to be simple tasks and put in a separate area of the room when I walked in. That was my life for two and half years at my middle school. The cherry on top, was during my eighth grade year, I was thrown into a recycling bin on Instagram live. After that, I left that school, returning only for graduation.
I transferred out to a gifted therapeutic school for the remainder of my eighth grade year. I was treated still differently, even there, due to my intellect and independence. I was treated like an outsider there as well and despite the relief of the bullying being over, I still was anxious to leave. At my IEP meeting that Spring, the head of the school was very skeptical that I would make it in a neurotypical environment. My parents and I decided to take the chance and enroll in public high school for the following Fall. This would allow me to do and be a part of things I would have only dreamed were possible.
I started high school in the fall and was accepted with a fresh start. I bounced around friend groups for a year until I found my calling: sports journalism. I was able to start my own radio show about hockey, called the Tomahawk Roundup. I initially started with game recaps from the Chicago Blackhawks, my hometown team. That was good for a while. However I wanted something more. The next year, I switched up the focus of my show, from recaps to interviews, booking many big name guests using my autistic drive to keep me pushing onward.
I was given media credentials by many hockey teams to interview their players. The big shift happened once I booked Eddie Olczyk for my show. That caught a lot of people’s attention, including, the high school hockey team, who immediately signed me on as their public address announcer. I was immediately accepted as part of the team by the players and coaches. I was invited to the United Center when the team won the state Championship in 2019, and was given media credentials for it.
My senior year I was asked to continue my work for the team along with my show. I became widely known throughout my school as not only part of a team, but a great broadcaster. I then seized this opportunity and came out to my friends about my autism, eventually my classmates as a whole. This amplified their support for me and my career and I was even invited to school dances as part of the “popular group.” As I look to the remaining half of a semester of high school I have, I see how much extra I have overcome as a person with autism. From my lowest low of being thrown in a recycling bin, to being ostracized at my new therapeutic school I have overcome so much more as a person with autism. I look to use my journalistic skills as a platform to help others on the spectrum find their niche and come out of their shell.
My academic goals are to graduate with honors from either Lake Forest College with a BA in Communications or Loyola University Chicago with a degree in Multimedia Journalism. While I am in school, I am striving for an internship at NBC Sports, ESPN 1000, or 670 The Score, all while continuing my radio show The Tomahawk Roundup. This show is my lifeblood, gathering me many professional athletes, announcers, and general managers within the hockey community as guests on my show. After graduating, I then hope to work for a professional hockey team as their play by play announcer for about five to eight seasons. This has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember and that has always been where I wanted to be professionally. Then I would re-evaluate my career situation and hopefully transition to the analysis business, which has always been my endgame. The position I am striving for is something like what Don Cherry had on Hockey Night in Canada during his tenure. I would ideally like to work for TSN, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment or NHL Network. After a lengthy tenure I hope to be the Senior Vice President of Communications for my hometown team, the Chicago Blackhawks. This would be my ideal professional career and I hope live that.
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.