“Although autism affects 1 in 44 children today, there are very few scholarships specifically for these students,” says Terri Daly, director, UCF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD). Daly and Judee Samuels, an autism disorders specialist, broached the idea of creating an endowed scholarship with Providing Autism Links and Support (PALS), a nonprofit organization established by parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

PALS enthusiastically agreed to fund a scholarship that will help to support a more inclusive student population at UCF and ease some of the financial burden for students with ASD and their families. Because it is endowed, it will support students in perpetuity.

Establishing this scholarship was a natural fit for PALS. The organization’s board members are strong advocates for those with ASD, and they also help strengthen community ties with local businesses by dispelling myths about autism. “Students with ASD face challenges that make working during college difficult,” says Daly. “We are so grateful to PALS for this scholarship which will allow them to focus fully on their education and to follow their dreams.”

Preference for the recipients of the Providing Autism Links & Support Scholarship will be given to students who are registered with UCF CARD; if the students are not served by CARD, preference will be given to students with ASD from Orange, Seminole, Volusia, Brevard, Lake, Osceola and Sumter counties. The amount of the scholarship will be based on the funds available in any given year. If you would like to support this scholarship, donations can be made at foundation.ucf.edu/palscardscholarship.

This story appears in IMPACT, Spring 2022 issue.

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