A new endowed scholarship at the UCF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) will help ease some of the financial burden for UCF students with autism spectrum disorder and their families.
The idea was conceived after many conversations with families and CHPS faculty, who highlighted that this unique scholarship was needed to help support a more inclusive student population.
Judee Samuels and Terri Daly, at CARD, broached the idea of creating an endowed scholarship with Providing Autism Links and Support, a nonprofit organization established by parents of children with ASD. The PALS board of dedicated business people collaborates with CARD to enhance support services for children and adults who have ASD in Central Florida. PALS leadership enthusiastically agreed to fund the scholarship, and by endowing it, the scholarship will last in perpetuity.
Not too long ago, the idea of someone with ASD going to college was thought to be impossible. But that mentality has changed. However, funding is still a large hurdle for many families to overcome.
Establishing this scholarship was a natural fit for PALS. PALS board members are strong advocates for those with ASD, and they also help strengthen community ties with local businesses by dispelling myths about autism.
Preference for the recipients of The Providing Autism Links & Support (PALS) Scholarship will be given to students who are registered with UCF CARD; if the students are not served by CARD, preference will be given to students with ASD from Orange, Seminole, Volusia, Brevard, Lake, Osceola and Sumter counties. The amount of the scholarship will be based on the funds available in any given year.
“We have students at UCF with autism spectrum disorder,” Samuels says. “And they are just like our other Knights – each one an individual with their own strengths and challenges, and ready to Charge On! into a bright future.”