66.1 F
67.4 F
Muscle Shoals
65.5 F
64 F
Fort Payne

Calhoun alum creates scholarship for autistic students

TANNER — About 1 in 36 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

But many more fall through the cracks and grow up never having learned they have this condition. The result is many adults who suspect they are different, but don’t know why. Furthermore, they can’t access the help they need to improve their quality of life.

That describes Calhoun Community College alum Holly Foshee, who has been working with the college’s foundation team to create the Huntsville Autistic Adults Annual Scholarship to help ease some of the financial burden for Calhoun students living on the autism spectrum.

“Being autistic almost crippled me from living a regular life,” said Foshee as she spoke with foundation and college officials about her personal story. “I never thought I was excelling as a normal human being until my diagnosis”.

Foshee had a history of struggling with standardized tests in high school and she remembered how patient the instructors were with her at Calhoun, making the transition into college testing somewhat a breeze.

Foshee said she was provided the opportunity to figure out calculus equations in a way that was comfortable with her learning style during coursework and tests. The result was all A’s.

Upon obtaining her associate degree in computer science at Calhoun, Foshee said her confidence soared and she received her bachelor’s degree in computer science from Athens State University.

Taking a break from school, Foshee decided to get a job. But having a variety of red flag autistic traits, most specifically what appeared to be disengagement in her job, she found it a challenge to keep a job.

Feeling like a failure, and unable to hold down a steady job, she soon found herself homeless.

In 2004, she re-enrolled in college where she felt more comfortable. She went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at UAH, and earned her master’s degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in biomechanics.

Six years later, Foshee still felt unfulfilled and for the first time, sought answers that would solve the mystery of why she thought and felt differently from other people.

Once again gainfully employed full-time, she was called into the bosses office, fully expecting to get fired.

Instead, her boss showed genuine concern and compassion about her work habits and that conversation led her to get tested for autism.

She received a confirmation of her diagnoses.

“I needed that diagnosis not only to ensure I would receive the accommodations I needed as an autistic person to excel in my job, but for my own inner peace,” Foshee said. “On the day of my diagnosis, that is what I received.”

Foshee speaks to organizations, including where she works, to educate and spread awareness about autism and how it may be affecting others on the job and at school.

Foshee said many individuals struggling with autism do not know what types of financial aid are available to help them obtain their college degree, and she doesn’t want them to go through what she did financially.

For that reason, she created the Huntsville Autistic Adults Annual Scholarship.

“I was so determined to create this scholarship that I sold many of my personal belongings and received help from a few other individuals living with autism who believed in my mission and wanted to help me come up with the first $1,000 to begin the annual scholarship,” she said. “For this scholarship to accomplish its goal of helping autistic individuals who won’t qualify for academic scholarships and that require a certain ACT or GPA, we need business leaders and individuals in the community to help contribute.

“This scholarship could be someone’s lifeline to not give up on their dreams of graduating from college.”

Click here to learn more about the Huntsville Autistic Adults Annual Scholarship, or how to contribute online. Include the scholarship in the box for this program.

Also contact the Calhoun College Foundation Office directly at 256-713-4823. All donations are tax-deductible.

Don’t miss out!  Subscribe to our email newsletter to have all our smart stories delivered to your inbox.

- Advertisment -

Most Popular