I Have Autism and Have Never Let Anything Get in the Way of My Dreams

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Rachel is a pageant girl with a ton of heart who’s showing our community that you don’t have to be defined your disability! Rachel currently is a singer, actress, model, writer and an autism advocate. When she three she was diagnosed PDD-NOS and another doctor later diagnosed her with Asperger’s. This year she graduated from high school with distinction and honors as well as winning the Principle’s award. Rachel was also the latest recipient of the Spring 2015 Honorable Mention Scholarship Award Winner from KFM Making a Difference.

We recently talked to Rachel about what’s she been up too in the pageant world, and as an autism advocate…

Kerry: Hey Rachel! Can you please tell us a bit about how you get involved in the autism community?

Rachel: I have been involved in the autism community from a young age. My mom always tried to get me involved in things to improve my social skills and help me be the best I could be. I started volunteering and working with The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities when I was 14.

How did getting involved with pageants become an interest to you?

I got involved in pageants because my mom was looking for a way to get me out of the house and to help with social skills and make friends. We went to social skills groups but there were mostly boys there and we didn’t have a lot in common. I also had very low self esteem. The pageants I have been involved in teach girls a lot of valuable life skills. I have heard it compared with playing a sport. We learn to work together. The competition is not against each other, but more to do your own personal best with the help of your friends. They have taught me how to be articulate and to speak and sing in front of an audience and have taught me interview skills that have helped me and will continue to help as I look for a job. Also I have created my platform the ability beyond disabilities because of pageantry and have been able to create even more autism awareness around the entire state.

We heard you recently graduated from high school! What advice would you share to other high school students with autism who are currently pursuing graduation?

For kids in high school, I would say, work hard and do your best. Find a group or club that interests you because thats a great way to make friends! For me I loved drama and choir and found people with similar interests and made friends. All of us have different interests but most high schools have a lot of clubs and activities to participate in. Most importantly though remember to be yourself! I am so pleased to be starting college this fall.

What do you hope to be able to do when you grow up both in your personal career and also as an autism advocate?

I am going to pursue my PhD in psychology as well as become a sign language interpreter. I am going to do my prerequisites at St. Petersburg College and after two years transfer to the University of South Florida. I intend to work with children with disabilities when I graduate from College. I am also currently working on a book series called “Klementine Castle.” I am hoping to see it published! I am also planning to continue being an autism advocate, and would love to travel the country to speak at conventions and autism events.

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

I believe that everyone has a valuable part on this earth. Some of us have to go about things in different ways. I have never let other people define what my dreams should be and I have been fortunate to have a supportive family. I truly believe I can show the world that those of us with differing abilities may have to walk a different path but don’t have to be determined by the depth and breadth of our dreams. I want to continue to be involved with autism advocacy and break the stereotype of autism and be able to show people with disabilities that their dreams can come true!

You can learn more about Rachel by clicking on the links below…

Follow Rachel on Facebook

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Graduation Rates Increase for High School Students with Disabilities

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The U.S. Department of Education has released new numbers that show that the graduation rate for those with disabilities has risen for the third year in a row. As reported from Disability Scoop the new number indicates that 63.1 percent of high school students with disabilities in the United States in the 2013-2014 school year graduated.

U.S Secretary of Educate Arne Duncan said on the increase, “The hard work of teachers, administrators, students and their families has made these gains possible and as a result many more students will have a better chance of going to college.”

Read more at Disability Scoop here.

With college being a possibility for more students with disabilities, we hope you will consider making an end of the year tax-deductible donation to KFM Making a Difference, a non-profit organization that’s given scholarships to 20 students with autism for college in the past 4 years. With your support, we are helping more of these students go to college everyday. Help make a difference for our community today here.

2015 in Review: 7 Students with Autism Receive Scholarship Aid for College

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Thanks to the generous donations of members in our community we were able to reward 7 scholarships to students with autism for college in 2015. This was part of our Spring 2015 Making a Difference for Autism Scholarship Program which is ran through KFM Making a Difference, a non-profit that focuses on helping the special needs community. The students who were awarded scholarships were Chantel Tavares (from Orlando, FL), Jacob Schweppe (from Kewanee, IL), Brandon Lang (from Redwood City, CA) Rachel Barcellona (Palm Harbor, FL), Christopher Hoskins (Beavercreek, OH), Michael Kirouac (Burlington, Ontario), and Christopher Oh (North Palm Beach, FL). The Fall 2015 winners will be announced on Wednesday, January 6, 2016. Since 2011 we’ve awarded 20 scholarships for students with autism to attend college. You can learn more about applying for our scholarship program for 2016 here.

Six Students with Autism Receive Scholarships for College in 2016

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 six young adults with autism; Talia Anderson, Chris Fegley, Leora Robbins, Spencer Agabiti, Lucas Brodsky and Clarin G. Paap III. With this latest round of scholarship awards, Kerry Magro and KFM have now awarded twenty (26) scholarships in the last 4 years.

Celebrating their 4-year Anniversary since their non-profit received 501 © 3 status, KFM Making a Difference is helping several young autistic adults make their dreams of going to college a reality. Talia Anderson (from Cape Coral, FL.), Chris Fegley (from Suffolk, VA.) and Leora Robbins (Atlanta, GA.) are showing the world the potential of those in the autism community. These three amazing young adults have been selected as the winners of the fall 2015 “Making a Difference for Autism Scholarship” from the KFM organization. In addition, KFM Making a Difference is giving out three honorable mention scholarships to Spencer Agabiti (from Ringoes, NJ.), Lucas Brodsky (Gurnee, IL.) and Clarin Paap III (Modesto, CA.).

“We saw a record number of applications for our fall scholarship,” says Kerry Magro, founder and CEO of KFM Making a Difference. “With these six (6) scholarships, we hope to help these young adults pursue a post-secondary education…”

In fall of 2012, KFM Making a Difference launched its scholarship program. Today KFM has now given out twenty-six (26) scholarships in total, helping 26 autistic adults to go to college. Kerry Magro, who turns 28 later this month, started KFM Making a Difference in 2009 while in College at Seton Hall University. What most don’t know about Kerry is that he was diagnosed with autism at 4. Today, Kerry is an accredited professional speaker and best-selling author who travels the country discussing autism and disability related issues.

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. Last year 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: http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-scholarship-coach/2014/04/17/find-college-scholarships-that-support-students-with-autism

KFM Making a Difference will now be looking ahead to its Spring 2016 scholarship application period, anticipating award of scholarships to additional talented autistic adults from the community. The deadline for this scholarship will be Monday, May 2nd, at Midnight U.S Eastern Standard Time. For more information on KFM Making a Difference and how you can apply for the next scholarship please go to www.kerrymagro.com/spring-2016-autism-scholarship-application-opens/ for more details.

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 at http://bit.ly/AutismScholarship2016.

Welcome to KFM Making A Difference!

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Award Winning and Breakthrough Advocate Kerry Magro knew early on that he wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. Kerry was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) a form of autism, at age 4. Growing up Kerry’s future was very uncertain.

Today however, after countless hours of therapy and the support of a loving family, Kerry has conquered many of his challenges. Now at 25, Kerry is The Founder and CEO of KFM Making a Difference in The Community, a non-profit organization that is focused on special need housing for disabled individuals in New Jersey. Kerry who is a recent Masters Graduate from Seton Hall University wears many hats in the community. For the past two years he’s traveled the world as a National Motivational Speaker on topics ranging but not limited to Disability Advocacy and Overcoming Obstacles.