We reached out to our past scholarship winners in order to answer the question, “Where are they now and what are they doing?”  We were successful in contacting many of our past winners.

Richard Haskayne Scholarship

Between 2012 and 2017, The Richard Haskayne Scholarship has been awarded annually and there have been eleven recipients.  It is awarded to eligible Albertans with ASD who are pursuing post-secondary education, training or vocation.  The scholarship helped students pursue an education in diverse fields at a university (six recipients), art college (one), and technical institutes or colleges (four).  The following is a recap of three of our past winners from 2012 – 2016 that we were able to track down. You can meet this year’s four award winners and hear about their educational pursuits on our website: theabilityhub.org.

Adam – 2012 Recipient

In 2012 Adam was awarded the Haskayne scholarship to help him achieve a Railway Conducting Certificate from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).  He accomplished this in December of the same year.  Subsequently, he obtained full-time employment as a conductor with the Canadian National Railway Company (CN Rail).  His responsibilities include getting the trains ready for travel to Winnipeg and Edmonton.

Adam has many interests outside of his job with CN Rail.  For example, he volunteers with Autism Calgary as a facilitator with the Asperger Support Network which is a group that helps other adults with ASD.  He is starting a focus group to make air travel more accessible to individuals with ASD.  He is also interested in supporting individuals with ASD to find suitable housing.  He currently lives in a home that he built himself with the help from his father.  He would like to engage others with ASD to build homes.  He has written up a preliminary business proposal to set up group homes for adults on the spectrum.

McKenna – 2013 Recipient

In 2014, McKenna achieved a Veterinary Medical Receptionist Certificate from Olds College.  For two years, she applied to animal hospitals and clinics but she was unable to find a job in her field.  She now works in and is a half owner of a family-owned business: Massage Addict.  Her job is to make sure that the business runs smoothly.  Her goal for the near future is to continue to have an active management role in the clinic.  While she lived away from home when she attended college, she has been living with her family for the past four years.  When outside the clinic, she enjoys reading, volunteering for Autism Calgary, and walking her puppy.

Hayley – 2016

Hayley is now in her fourth year of a BSc in Molecular Genetics Honours Degree at the University of Alberta (U of A).  She plans to graduate in 2018.  She is also finishing her Certificate in Biological Research.  This past summer, she worked as a student researcher creating a bio-field on the rooftop of a building at the University of Calgary!  Her future goals are to work in a research lab and to obtain a master’s degree in biology.

She volunteers as an executive for the U of A Women in Science and Engineering Club.  This is a mentorship program for women who belong to a minority cultural group and who wish to pursue education in science, technology, engineering, and math.  In addition, she helps other students in her role as a Peers-Assisted Learning Leader in an introductory genetics course.

Dr. Fraser Mustard Scholarship

The Dr. Fraser Mustard Scholarship for “Advancing Knowledge in the Field of Autism Spectrum Disorders” is an annual scholarship.  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). Since its inception in 2012, The Dr. Fraser Mustard Scholarship has assisted six scholars to pursue their dreams of working in the autism field. Collectively, our award winners have completed two PhDs and have two more PhDs and two Master’s degrees in progress. Here is a quick update of what our wonderful scholars have been up to in contributing to the world of autism:

Wendy

Wendy was one of our first winners of the Dr. Fraser Mustard Scholarship for Advancing Knowledge in the Field of Autism Spectrum Disorders, and she has been doing amazing work since receiving her award in 2012. Wendy’s doctoral research evaluated the interplay between a young adult’s communication profile and employment. Since completing that work, she has become the National Program Development Manager for the Worktopia program which has been running across Canada to improve employment futures for youth and young adults with ASD, since 2014. Wendy is an active member of the ASD and rehabilitation communities and works tirelessly to improve services and outcomes for the individuals she serves. She is currently on the Board of Directors for the Lead Foundation of Calgary, and is a task force member for the Autism Research Ethics Task Force. In addition to being a sessional instructor at the University of Calgary, Wendy sits on the continuing competency committee for the Alberta College of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists. Wendy is certainly a force to be reckoned with, and we are so pleased to have shared in her journey.

Alyssa

Alyssa also won a Dr. Fraser Mustard Scholarship in 2012 and has since completed her PhD in school psychology. Alyssa has been involved in delivering several sessions of the PEERS® social skills program and used her skills as a social coach to start the Chess & Board Games Club at The Ability Hub in 2014. Thanks to her hard work and legacy of engagement, that Club continues to thrive today. Alyssa has also been actively engaged in providing autism services in multiple areas across Canada. She completed an internship in a provincial outreach program in BC, serving all school districts across the province, in both urban and rural settings. Currently, Alyssa is working as a school psychologist in the Winnipeg school district. We wish her all the best as she moves forward in her career!

Ryan

Ryan is a PhD candidate in School and Applied Child Psychology, and a newly fully registered psychologist. His scholarship assisted him to research executive functioning and social skills in youth with high functioning autism and to explore diagnostic issues such as early identification and diagnoses of ASD into adolescence and adulthood. Ryan has been able to share his work through numerous conferences and presentations, including the Canadian Psychological Association’s Annual Convention, and the International Meeting for Autism Research. Ryan has been an active teaching assistant at the University of Calgary and has been working there to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders. In one instance, he was able to write a featured story on Asperger’s Syndrome through the U of C’s publication, The Gauntlet. Ryan has recently accepted a job at Renfrew Educational Services and is supporting in-house preschool treatment programs as well as Specialized Service delivery in the community.

Candace

Candace is working through a Master’s of Education and has a background in child education and early intervention. Candace has explored early intervention and dynamics with caregivers, finding that many parents have taken on roles to direct and lead therapy regimes, while also feeling overwhelmed and unprepared. Candace would like to see more supports for parents and to understand how therapy demands might impact caregiver relationships with their children. Candace has also seen many challenges and gaps in adult services for autism and right now, her academic focus is on adult education. Candace hopes to build better services in post-secondary institutions drawing from currently available resources such as student accessibility services and connections to inclusion movements in the student body (such as coordination with LGBTQ and new immigrant student groups and other campaigns for inclusion to help build awareness of disability needs and inclusion with a population of diverse abilities). Candace also volunteers regularly with Autism Calgary, donating her time to deliver child education seminars across Calgary to promote inclusion in school systems and other community groups.

Amanda

Amanda started working in the autism field a decade ago and is passionate about supporting those touched by ASD. Amanda is nearing the end of a PhD in School and Applied Child Psychology exploring parental experiences of disclosure, especially of disclosure of an autism diagnosis by parents to their children. Amanda plans to use her current research to develop a resource for parent and families to navigate the disclosure process, along with samples of shared experience and a focus for improving self-concepts of children building awareness of their diagnosis. Amanda has recently completed a 1600 hour internship and is currently working as a registered provisional psychologist.

Jesse

Jesse is our most recent award winner, having received the Dr. Fraser Mustard Scholarship this year. Jesse is completing a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Calgary. He is currently researching best approaches to ‘allyship’ between academic researchers and the ASD community; particularly through inclusion of self-advocates in research settings. Jesse hopes his work will lead to improved social inclusion of individuals with ASD, including within professional and academic environments. 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.

Congratulations to all of our scholarship recipients! We look forward to meeting and supporting new candidates in 2018.

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