Autistic College Graduates Share Their Journey and Secrets for SuccessA panel of three autistic adults who graduated from a four-year college or university within the past four years share their experiences. By responding to interview and audience questions, they’ll reveal some of the challenges they faced and celebrate some key victories during their college career. During the last 30 minutes of this webinar, attendees will be able to pose their own questions to the panelists, via the Zoom chat feature. This webinar intends to answer your questions about college and make your own college experience easier. Click below to learn more about our professional panelists.
Jay Eveson-Egler is an autistic self-advocate and program manager with AANE. They’ve worked with neurodiversity based organizations in a variety of roles, including as a 1:1 community companion, teacher, recruiter, and administrative assistant. Jay’s primary interests lie in assisting autistic individuals with the transition into post-secondary educational settings, supporting autistic peer-to-peer connections, and understanding LBGTQ+ issues, and their intersections with autism. They have prior experience founding and facilitating neurodiverse peer support groups at both Holyoke Community College and Mount Holyoke College and remain active as an adviser with the Neurodiverse Students Association at Mount Holyoke, where they graduated with their bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Education in 2020.
Colin Ozeki is an NYU Stern graduate, NYCDOE paraprofessional, and aspiring special educator. He is an autistic self-advocate with a desire to promote neurodivergent inclusion, acceptance, and understanding. Colin believes in a kinder inclusive world, where people are accepted for their differences and encouraged to embrace their strengths. That's why he continues to share his story of how he overcame challenges to become the success he is today, in hopes that others can learn to understand each other, highlight their best aspects, live their own success story, and find their own happiness.
Ben VanHook is an autistic graduate student studying public policy at George Mason University with an emphasis on education policy. He received his bachelor’s degree with a double-major in political science and psychology at Mercyhurst University. He is currently employed at the Organization for Autism Research as a Programs and Outreach Associate, having previously worked for MASI, George Mason’s autism initiative. He has written several articles covering topics ranging from autism appreciation to disclosure to education and has spoken at a few national panels discussing autism inclusion in the workforce and mental health and autism. In his free time, Ben enjoys watching soccer, playing piano and guitar, and writing/performing poetry.
Ryan Walsh, the Training Coordinator at AANE, is a recent graduate from Westfield State University with a Bachelor's in Sociology. He is also a musician that has studied a variety of instruments over the last fourteen years and is highly involved with music and podcast production. When he is not creating music, he enjoys playing video games and spending time with his friends. Ryan has been speaking with AANE since 2014 and always enjoys and appreciates the opportunity to speak on his lived experience as someone on the autism spectrum. Ryan speaks on topics related to self-advocacy, mental health, education, employment, and building meaningful connections.
College Consultants and Directors of Student Services Explain What Autistic Individuals Need to Know About CollegeA panel of three college professionals -- consultants who specialize in advising and placing autistic individuals in college and university programs throughout the US, along with directors of student support and accessibility services -- will address questions such as:
- How to tell if your dream school is the right fit for you?
- What can you do to advocate for your needs?
- What to consider if you are transferring to a new school or returning to school after a leave?
- College can be a taxing experience socially and emotionally and can be a big financial commitment. How can you prepare?
- What might be different for students as they enter college and what supports do you recommend students consider to manage those changes?
- How can you thrive in college?
Eric Endlich, PhD, founder of Top College Consultants®, helps autistic students worldwide transition to college. His extensive list of autism-friendly colleges is popular among families and education professionals alike. An experienced clinical psychologist, professional writer, and national presenter, Dr. Endlich has been interviewed by Forbes, Money Magazine, and U.S. News and World Report. He helped found AANE's Neurodiverse Couples Institute and has co-written a new book, "Older Autistic Adults, In Their Own Words". Dr. Endlich is on the Learning Differences/Neurodiversity and Diversity/Equity/Inclusion Committees of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and was honored by IECA with an inaugural "Making a Difference" award. He was named a Top Contributor by Exceptional Needs Today Magazine for his article, “7 Things Students With Disabilities Should Do When Starting College.” He also co-manages a large Facebook group, Parents of College Bound Students with Learning Disabilities, ADHD and ASD. He is an autism parent and an autistic adult.
Cara Streit, Director, Student Accessibility Support at Brandeis University. Cara’s career in inclusive higher education, disability justice and opportunity equity spans more than a decade. Before coming to Brandeis she served as the inaugural Associate Director and Director of Academics, Innovation and Inclusion of the Threshold Program at Lesley University. During her 13-year tenure at Lesley, Cara oversaw higher education programming and curriculum building for students with intellectual, developmental, learning and physical disabilities, and led seven international trips with alumni. She has particular interests in inclusive college environments, Universal Design for Learning, self-determination, and the transition from post-secondary settings into later adulthood. She has developed and taught social science courses and enjoys supervising and teaching social work students. Cara holds a BS in Biology from Boston College, an MSW from Simmons University, and an EdD from Boston University.
Michele Cantara, formerly Co-Director of Adult Services at AANE, now provides neurodiversity training on aspects of Aspergers/Autism. Her 30-year-old son is on the spectrum. She applies her lived experience along with 35 years of high-tech consulting and change management to her work with adults and parents of adults over 23. She focuses on workplace issues, parenting without power to improve family interactions, and civil/criminal issues.