Three Graduating Seniors Win Autism Scholarships to Attend College

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New Jersey non-profit owner of KFM Making a Difference, Kerry Magro, an autistic adult awards scholarships to three graduating high school seniors for college in Derek Stine, Cameron Cassali and Dani Bowman.

When I found out I was the recipient of the scholarship I was extremely grateful and thankful to the scholarship committee.

Derek Stine, a now graduated high school senior, has many aspirations for the future. One is to go to college to get a degree in Psychology. He hoped someday to help those with autism like him. He came to this aspiration a little while after he found out about his diagnosis of autism when he was a high school junior. Despite this, Derek has not stopped his pursuit of higher learning and now is the winner of the “Making a Difference for Autism Scholarship” for spring 2013.

“As soon as I read Derek’s scholarship application I knew he had a bright road ahead of him,” says Kerry Magro, Founder and CEO of KFM Making a Difference, a NJ non-profit. “What makes Derek stand out among this year’s group of applicants was his selflessness. From his cover letter to his personal essay, he showed his true colors of wanting to help others. This was something I found truly admirable.”

Derek, who was born and raised in Sparta, Illinois, was ecstatic when he heard the news of his scholarship award. “When I found out I was the recipient of the scholarship I was extremely grateful and thankful to the scholarship committee.” Derek plans on using this $500 scholarship to help pay for his educational needs at Murray State University this fall.

After the inaugural scholarship was awarded to autistic adult Jeremiah Swisher last year, Kerry decided to do something different this spring. He wanted to give those high school seniors (about to graduate) a chance to apply. Kerry said, “We wanted to recognize the amazing work from these upcoming young adults.”

With the change came a 3-fold increase in scholarship applicants from the previous year. Kerry said, “It left us with a tough decision. We were overjoyed by the increase in applicants but it made it tougher to narrow done the pool to one lone winner.”

The KFM scholarship committee came together and decided to give two “honorable mention” scholarships of $250 dollars each. These scholarships were awarded to two high school graduating seniors, Cameron Cassali and Dani Bowman.

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.

Kerry, like the rest of the winners, was diagnosed with autism at a very young age. The progress Kerry has made, as well as the scholarship winners, leaves him optimistic for the future of the autism community. Kerry recently founded an autism support organization that has been registered as a public 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. The Tax-deductible donations Kerry’s organization will solicit will be used for advocacy and awareness as well as other efforts to benefit those with disabilities. New scholarships will be among these efforts. The next “Make a Difference for Autism Scholarship" application will be posted in late June on Kerry’s personal website at

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