Students awarded The Matthew Paul Finnigan Memorial Scholarship for the 2022/23 School Year
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / PRURGENT
Today, the Autism Society of California, the Finnigan family, and the Community Foundation for Monterey County proudly announces the names of three highly qualified California students who won Achievement Scholarship awards through the National Achievement Scholarship Program.
Isabel Twomey of Carmel received this year’s 1st place scholarship award of $2,000. Antonio Maldonado of San Diego was awarded the 2nd place $1,000 scholarship and Hosanna Garcia-Mecinas of Roseville received the 3rd place award of $750. The Scholarship Selection Committee singled out these three individuals based on their personal determination and demonstrated ability to overcome adversity, overall positive outlook, and commitment to pursuing challenging careers assisting others, especially those on the autism spectrum.
After graduating from Carmel High School in June 2022, Isabel Twomey plans to continue her education at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She is interested in studying Linguistics or Psychology, potentially combining these interests and pursuing a mental health career providing services to people with developmental disorders or other behavioral challenges, especially those in underserved communities. After struggling for many years to identify, understand and overcome her own sensory and learning difficulties, Isabel looks forward to providing a positive contribution to the Autism community, noting that her career interests are “rooted in helping people like me, especially those with limited resources.” She looks forward to one day “finding new ways for people with Autism to express themselves and connect with the rest of the world.”
Antonio Maldonado will graduate this June from High Tech High School in San Diego and plans to attend UCLA, majoring in Business Economics. Antonio is also active in Scouts BSA, having used his Eagle Scout Service Project both to serve his local Autism community and to increase awareness and acceptance of Autism Spectrum Disorders among his fellow scouts. His project required him to lead a team in designing, funding, and building a sensory swing for Banyan Tree Educational Services, a program serving children and youth with disabilities. Already a very accomplished young man, Antonio intends to merge his interests in business economics and real estate with his devotion to the Autism community, seeking to address the “minimal options for housing specializing in accommodating individuals with Autism.” He hopes to use his education to help “my community grow by promoting growth in accessible, multi-family housing communities for Autistic adults.”
Hosanna Garcia-Mecinas will be graduating from San Juan High School in Citrus Heights this spring and continuing her education in the California State University system, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science. She plans to work with animals, either in a zoo or wilderness setting, possibly in Alaska. After working hard and learning to overcome her own educational and social challenges, including learning advocate for herself, Hosanna believes she “can be an example and represent the Autism community” and is seeking opportunities to “be a spokesperson to stop the bullying of students like me at school.”
The Matthew Paul Finnigan Memorial Scholarship Fund honors the memory of Matthew Finnigan, a young adult with ASD whose life was taken before he could achieve his goal of helping others. Matthew was attending college in Monterey and planned to use his educational interests in STEM fields, as well as experiences facing and overcoming challenges, to research and analyze biological and environmental factors and develop interventions that might reduce the symptoms of ASD. When asked what is truly important in life, Matthew wrote, "You have a legacy that will live on as long as their stories about you keep being told," and reminded his reader to ". . . always look on the bright side of life."
This permanently endowed fund was established with gifts from the Finnigan family and friends, and matching funds from Chevron, to assist students with ASD whose interests align with those Matthew had, to realize their educational goals.
The Matthew Paul Finnigan Memorial Scholarship program is open to California students with ASD (DSM-IV or later criteria) studying full-time or part-time and pursuing a career in the fields of Psychiatry, Psychology, Statistics, Chemistry, Math, researching ways of reducing the challenges of Autism, or a career which will help adolescents on the autism spectrum. The Autism Society of California is honored to assist the Community Foundation and the Finnigan family in the application and selection process for this important award.
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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Carly Ott at 1-800-869-7069 or email scholarshipautismsocietyca.org.