In My Own Words: Makaile Stanley
I remember the moment I knew I would be the first person in my family to attend college. When I was 16, a doctor recommended that I apply to a technical school instead of a four-year college because of my Asperger’s syndrome. I was crushed and broke down in tears. I took red permanent marker and made a giant “X” on his report and threw it away. I decided then and there that I wanted to go to college. I wanted to do better.
I am now a college freshman on scholarship at Bowie State University. I attended high school at Kennedy Krieger, and many teachers helped me get to where I am today. So many teachers made an impact on me. These were not ordinary, everyday teachers. These were teachers who wanted you to make a difference in this world; they wanted you to be unique and to be known on this earth for your true purpose.
Kennedy Krieger improved my work ethic, and taught me how to work smarter. They taught me how to go above and beyond and do the best job I could, to strive for greatness no matter what. They taught me that I had to really work in order to be successful—even if I had to work day and night, work my fingers to the bone. I worked hard, and it paid off. The proudest moment of my life was walking across that stage getting my high school diploma.
When I found out I had won a college scholarship, I was amazed. It showed me that if you really want to make a change and people see that, they will open up their hands and help you. I believe I am continuing to prove that you can achieve anything if you keep going and work hard for it.
Being the first person in my family to attend college means a lot. I believe that by getting a college degree, I will have a better shot of doing great things in my life. For me, it means victory over my circumstances, financial stability, and the ability to give back to my community. Giving back is very important to me, because so many people have given to me.
My advice to others with Asperger’s who may be struggling is to find what you want to do in life and go after it. My dream is to be an entrepreneur and design my own T-shirt line. If your gift is dancing, be the first person with Asperger’s to make it to Broadway. If you’re an artist, be the first person with Asperger’s who designs things for Nike. Even if you want to be the president of the United States— somebody with Asperger’s can be a doctor, a Supreme Court judge, a lawyer, the CEO of Apple, anything. The sky is the limit.
Visit kennedykrieger.org/special-education/educational-programs to learn more about Kennedy Krieger's School Programs.