Autism Delaware awards scholarships to four UD students
9:10 a.m., May 27, 2014--The four recipients of the 2014 Autism Delaware Daniel and Lois Gray Memorial Scholarship are University of Delaware students Veronica D’Amico, Lael Houston, Elizabeth McCabe and Taylor Soave.
Established by Autism Delaware Secretary John Fisher Gray and autism advocate Elizabeth Fisher Gray, the scholarship was created in memory of Daniel and Lois Gray, who had a grandchild with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
A double perspective
To be eligible for the scholarship, a graduate or undergraduate student must be matriculated full time at UD; major in special education, psychology, linguistics, or speech pathology; plan on becoming a teacher or other professional in the ASD community; and maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
D’Amico is working toward a master’s degree in education, exceptional children and youth, with a certificate in ASD and severe disabilities.
According to her undergraduate faculty at UD, “D’Amico demonstrated a remarkable initiative to reinforce class expectations and to promote appropriate behavior through positive reinforcement. Ms. D’Amico unfailingly provided positive feedback and support while maintaining challenging learning expectations. She consistently expected and maintained respectful interactions among students.”
With graduation set for May 2015, the Lewes, Delaware, native plans to teach in an ASD-specific early intervention program in Delaware similar to the Sussex Consortium Delaware Autism Program, where D’Amico works over the summer.
Houston is a sophomore with a double major in neuroscience and public policy with a minor in legal studies. Her goal is to earn degrees in both medicine and law.
In medicine, Houston intends to become a neurologist and research ASD-related diagnoses, determine ASD’s cause and possible treatment, and methodize prevention. On the law side, Houston plans to become an ASD advocate to ensure that “rights are protected and voices are heard.”
A former member of Junior Partners in Policymaking, Houston is now the youngest member of Partners in Policymaking, working on the employment issues faced by people with ASD, including the creation of a fair, more competitive living wage. In addition to being named a national advanced placement scholar, the Dover native has received the Jefferson Award for Public Service and the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
McCabe is studying elementary education with a concentration in special education and a minor in disabilities studies in a bachelor’s degree program, and also is working toward a master’s degree in education, ASD and severe disabilities. Her goal is to teach children with ASD in an early intervention program.
In addition to being an international student volunteer in the Dominican Republic, the Villanova, Pennsylvania, native has volunteered as a coach-mentor at the University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies, a tutor at Newark’s Early Learning Center, and at the Activities for Adapted Movements and Skills Program.
In Soave’s plan to work as a speech-language pathologist with children with ASD, the UD junior has shadowed numerous speech-language pathologists and is currently majoring in cognitive science with a minor in disabilities studies and educational studies.
Soave has also worked at Key to Me Therapy (a therapy center for children with disabilities), is a play therapist (using a form of psychotherapy in which children use play to express themselves), and has tutored children with intellectual disabilities.
In addition to being inducted into the National Society for Collegiate Scholars, the Holmdel, New Jersey, native is an active member of the National Student Speech Hearing Language Association and Autism Speaks U Club as well as philanthropy chair for Alpha Xi Delta, a campus sorority that fundraises to benefit Autism Speaks.