Richard Haskayne Scholarship

The Richard Haskayne Scholarship is for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  It is an annual scholarship of $2500 and is awarded to four eligible Albertans with ASD who are pursuing post-secondary education, training or vocation. Applicants for this scholarship must submit a 250 word essay on “how being a student with ASD has impacted their education,” as well as their educational goals and post-secondary program plans.

This year’s awards go to Liam, Laura, Kristin, and Carlos.

Liam

In the fall, 2017, Liam will be entering his second year of a double degree in English and Education at the University of Lethbridge.  Liam would like to become a classroom teacher and a publisher of novels, screenplays, and academic papers on novels and films.

Following Liam’s diagnosis of ASD, he received support both academically and socially from his teachers.  His teachers helped him to understand himself and the world.  He established a routine of completing his homework first and then rewarding himself with video games or reading.  This routine helped to keep him calm and meet his academic goals.  Education has also helped him to develop his independence and autonomy.  Liam stated, “I, too, want to be the kind of educator that is not only an instructor but also a guide to one’s identity.”

Laura

Laura is currently working on her PhD candidacy at The University of Alberta.  She has developed a therapeutic novel, “You can’t do that in Canada.”  The therapeutic novel provides a cultural comparison of autism to challenges faced by children who are internationally adopted from Haiti. This novel will serve the purpose of teaching social learning objectives to children with ASD and children who are internationally adopted; it attempts to normalize their differences for their peers.  Her study will be a mixed-methods case study.  She will assess the participants’ social skills before, during, and after the lessons that are taught in the therapeutic novel.

She was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of thirteen and this provided her with an explanation for her unique set of strengths and challenges.  Throughout high school and university she received accommodations such as additional time for some tests and the use of a computer. She currently communicates with parents and teachers of children with autism on Facebook and Second Life and offers her insights and suggestions.  She has published two academic papers on autism and sexuality and has done speeches at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Centre and the Centre for Autism.  Laura envisions a future career that combines teaching and research.

Kristin

Kristin is entering her fourth year at U of C and completing her Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Film Studies and minoring in English. She has volunteered with the Alberta Ballet Company as a videographer over the past year and was the co-producer and editor of their 50th anniversary video. She also created five videos for their production of “My Canada” with music by Gordon Lightfoot, and was featured in the U of C Today Magazine.

Before her diagnosis of ASD, Kristin considered herself an outsider and was often solitary in school. She has found her niche in university by embracing who she is. Kristin wrote, “I like to believe that we will someday reach a point when the world is no longer divided into society and outsiders, and we can all be ourselves.” Her future goal is to become a computer animator and, upon completion of her degree next year, she plans to move to Vancouver and attend VanArts.

Carlos

Carlos has been accepted to start the Automotive Service Technician Pre-Employment Program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in the fall, 2017.  This is a sixteen week program which includes a three-week practicum.  Carlos wants to become an automotive service technician.

Carlos was born in Peru and came to Canada when he was 11 years old.  In Canada, he was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified and developmental disabilities.  After the diagnosis, he was given accommodations and social supports to assist his learning.  In 2013, he completed the Transitional Vocational Program in Red Deer where he had the experience of working in mechanics shops.

Carlos is very involved in sports and he has participated in the Special Olympic Provincial Games (2014) and the Summer Games (2015); he has won two silver medals and one gold.  He would like to represent Canada in the 2019 Special Olympics Games in Abu Dhabi.

Dr. Fraser Mustard Scholarship

The Dr. Fraser Mustard Scholarship for “Advancing Knowledge in the Field of Autism Spectrum Disorders” is an annual scholarship of $5,000. It is awarded to an eligible Albertan pursuing a post-secondary academic program in a field that supports and furthers the knowledge and/or research of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Applicants for this scholarship must submit a 750 word essay outlining why they are interested in the field of autism and their research experience to date. As well, they must document their volunteer activities and accomplishments with respect to ASD.

This year’s award goes to: Jesse

This coming September 2017, Jesse will be continuing into his third year of a four year Master of Social Work program with the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Social Work, Central and Northern Alberta Region in Edmonton.  He will be starting data collection towards completion of his thesis.  His thesis will seek to understand best approaches to ‘allyship’ between academic researchers and the ASD community, and including self-advocates in a research priority setting.  A historically Western scientific approach to research has largely relied on traditional structures and understanding of research, which often has excluded and minimized the input, involvement and influence of individuals with ASD.  The exclusion of meaningful engagement by those with lived experience risks social exclusion of these individuals not only from research, but from the community as a whole.  Jesse hopes his research will lead to improved social inclusion of individuals with ASD across a range of communication and cognitive presentation.

Jesse plans a future career as a social worker within the ASD community.  He views his practice through an anti-oppressive lens, and works compassionately and empathically with people to better understand their experiences in order to make changes where they think it matters, and on their own terms.

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