7 Students with Autism Receive College Scholarships; 45 Recipients in 6 Years

Fall 2016 Scholarship Winners (2)

Kerry Magro, an adult with autism and Founder/President of KFM Making a Difference (a New Jersey based non-profit corporation), announced his organization’s award of college scholarships to seven young adults with autism; Brandon Beltran, Nicholas Ryland, Caleb Chiariello, Austin Gillum, Ellie Rappaport, Jared Hites and Trey Alvelo. With this latest round of scholarship awards, Kerry Magro and KFM have now awarded fourty-five (45) scholarships to students with autism in the last six years.

As Summer approaches we are so glad to award scholarships to Nicholas Ryland (Austin, TX), Caleb Chiariello (Morristown, NJ), Jared Hites (Hermantown, MN) and Trey Alvelo (Chatham, VA). These are KFM’s Spring 2017 “Making a Difference for Autism Scholarship” winners! In addition, we are happy to award honorable mention scholarships to Austin Gillum (South Korea), Ellie Rappaport (Atlanta, GA) and Brandon Beltran (Coral Springs, FL)!

“This year we added an online essay portion to our scholarship and it brought in hundreds of thousands of readers to learn more about these amazing students.” says Kerry Magro, founder and CEO of KFM Making a Difference. “Based on the donations we continue to receive we were able to make this happen and give these students with autism support as they pursue a post-secondary education.”

In fall of 2012, KFM Making a Difference launched its scholarship program. Thus far KFM has given out fourty-five (45) scholarships in total to help students with autism to go to college. Kerry Magro, founder of KFM, is a producer of social media and digital content at Autism Speaks, a professionally certified motivational speaker, best-selling author, movie consultant and television talk show host. Kerry was nonverbal till 2.5 and diagnosed with autism at age four. Today, Kerry travels the country as an International Motivational Speaker to share his story about autism and to support other kids with autism on their roads through life.

KFM as another new part of the application asked each of the scholarship winners to share what they would like people to know about autism to educate our community. This is what they had to say…

Untitled design (2)“People with autism can accomplish so many things and I hope we can continue to create opportunities for people with autism to do what they love and contribute to their communities. Different is not less and the more we can educate people about that fact the sooner we can all benefit from and appreciate the talents and efforts of everyone.”

– Nicholas, majoring in Music at University of Texas at Austin, Butler School of Music, Class of 2021

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“The autism spectrum can be both great and also challenging. I have always had a knack for numbers, but I can’t say the same about social situations. However, I am perfectly comfortable with myself and unlike some people, I don’t need approval from others to be who I am.”

– Caleb, majoring in Computer Science and Accounting at Stevens Institute of Technology, Class of 2022

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“I would like people to know that having Autism doesn’t mean I’m brain damaged. I’m wired differently but I’m not defective. Many great discoveries in the world were discovered by Autistic people. The world needs people who think outside the box and aren’t afraid to pursue a different path than the herd.”

– Jared, majoring in Engineering at Itasca Community College, Class of 2019

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“Do not let anyone define who you are or restrict you with a label. Autism can be a gift when you learn how to recognize where your strengths and weaknesses are. Autism has given me a greater ability to focus in school, follow directions and pay attention. I have learned to be organized and work on uncomfortable social situations.”

– Trey, majoring in History and Political Science at Emory & Henry College, Class of 2021

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“I like the saying “Different Not Less” and  “Autism – Always Unique Totally Intelligent Sometimes Mysterious”. We are all the same, we just do things a little different, determination is the number one reason we get to where we want to be in life.”

– Brandon, majoring in Marine Biology at Florida Atlantic University, Class of 2021

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“Living with Autism has been tough: finding the right school, the right friends, going to therapy every week, etc. But with support from my family, friends and teachers, I’ve been able to succeed. If you’re living with Autism, never give up because being different isn’t bad. It’s a gift. Use your gift to make the world a better place!”

– Ellie, majoring in Early Childhood Education at Dean College, Class of 2019

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“People with autism are, in general, highly complicated individuals. As stated quite accurately by an autistic character in the new Power Rangers movie, our minds work differently from those of people who aren’t autistic. But despite our autism, this condition shouldn’t be what define us. You cannot lump all people into one category, and autistic people are no different in that regard.”

– Austin, majoring in English at University of Maryland University College, Class of 2018

Today, according to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 68 children will be diagnosed with autism while more than 500,000 young individuals with autism will reach adulthood within the next decade. A few years ago U.S. News & World Report highlighted KFM Making a Difference as one of the only non-profits to give out scholarships to adults with autism in the U.S pursuing a post-secondary program.

The deadline for our next scholarship in the “2017 Summer Making a Difference for Autism Scholarship” program will be Monday, August 14th at Midnight U.S Eastern Standard Time. You can find the application here.

This scholarship fund is funded entirely through the generous donations of members in our community. You can help their scholarship program moving forward by making a tax-deductible donation here. If you are interested in learning more about Kerry’s background or sending him a media/speaker inquiry you can contact him anytime here.

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