Jeremiah Swisher knew very early on he was different from his peers. Today though, after years of hard work and determination, Jeremiah is the recipient of the inaugural “Making a Difference For Autism Scholarship Program.” A first of its kind scholarship for those with autism funded through KFM Making a Difference.
"Jeremiah exemplifies everything we wanted our scholarship winner to be,” says Kerry Magro, Founder and CEO of KFM Making a Difference, a NJ non-profit. "When I first read his scholarship application I was blown away by his dedication not only to his studies but disability advocacy. His wanting to change the world for those with special needs is awe-inspiring."
Jeremiah was diagnosed with autism at 2 years and 10 months and is currently a rising senior at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater majoring in Business Administration and Political Science. He intends to use both studies in the future in the field of disability advocacy. Jeremiah cited activities in organizations such as Wisconsin Youth First, Whitewater Student Government and The Disability Advocacy and Awareness Coalition.
Today, according to The Center for Disease Control, 1 in 88 children will be diagnosed with autism while more than 500,000 young individuals with autism will reach adulthood within the next decade.
Jeremiah said when hearing he received the award, “I thank you for all your support that you have provided me. This scholarship is definitely going to help me out when it comes to my future endeavors. This funding will certainly help me when it comes to my schooling and I'm very grateful about that.”
When asked about his challenges growing up Jeremiah said, “I gave it my all and my best to be who and where I am today.”
Kerry discussed the impetus for the scholarship for a student with autism. He himself was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, a form of autism, at the age of 4. His life, like Jeremiah’s, would remain very uncertain for the next few years. After his diagnosis, social along with emotional delays would impact his development. After 20 years of multiple therapies and supports Kerry has conquered many of his challenges.
Kerry's goal through this scholarship was to make sure to keep recognizing individuals with autism for their accomplishments. He cites a lot of similarities between Jeremiah and himself. Both have overcome challenges and are successful in a college setting. Kerry graduated from the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University in 2011 and went on for a Master’s in Strategic Communication which he will receive this upcoming May.
Looking towards the future, Kerry hopes more organizations will stress funding for individuals with autism who pursue a post-secondary education. “Kids grow up and we need to be there to support them when that time comes. Whether it’s with supports, therapies, funding, you name it, the time is now to bring a positive change for adults with autism."
Kerry announced that with the inaugural scholarship completed he will be posting the next scholarship application for the 2013-2014 today on his personal website http://www.kerrymagro.com/blog/.
Future inquiries about this award can be directed to kerrymagro(at)gmail(dot)com.