University of Delaware
Jenna MacKenzie

Autism Delaware honors

Four UD students win 2011-12 Gray Memorial Scholarship awards


9:09 a.m., July 19, 2011--Each year, Autism Delaware awards the Daniel and Lois Gray Memorial Scholarship to deserving students who need support in becoming professionals in the autism field. Four University of Delaware students are this year’s winners -- Jenna M. MacKenzie, Janine M. Navarra, Allyson M. Szecsi, and Anne M. Yuskevich.

Each of the UD students will receive a $1,000 scholarship for the 2011-12 academic year.

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About the scholarship winners

Jenna M. MacKenzie, of Felton, Del., wants to become a licensed speech-language pathologist and to work as a clinician helping individuals with communication disorders and impairments. Currently majoring in human services clinical studies with double minors in disabilities studies and linguistics, the UD senior also volunteers at Autism Delaware events and practices applied behavioral analysis with a young child with autism. 

MacKenzie wants to eventually earn a master’s degree and certification in clinical competence.

“I have always had dreams of working with individuals with autism,” said MacKenzie, “and this career path allows me to help people in a way that I had never dreamt possible.”

“My career goal,” noted UD senior Janine M. Navarra, “is to become a special-education teacher, and I would specifically like to work with students with autism. I would love to have my own classroom consisting of a small group of students with autism, but I would also enjoy being a special educator in an inclusion classroom with students with autism as well.”

Currently majoring in elementary education with a concentration in special education, Navarra is a member of several academic honor societies and has made the dean’s list while volunteering through the Student Council for Exceptional Children, UD Early Learning Center and Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.

Allyson M. Szecsi said she wants to eventually earn a master’s degree in speech pathology and autism certification. Currently a junior at UD, Szecsi is majoring in cognitive science with a concentration in speech pathology and double minors in disability studies and psychology. 

Szecsi is also enrolled in a mentoring class, working as a job coach for a young man with autism who is interning as a teacher’s aide.

“Once I am certified,” said Szecsi, “I hope to work in a school that specializes in students with disabilities, particularly autism. Eventually, I hope to open my own practice where parents can bring their children to my office and I can work with them there and have the best possible assistive and stimulating technology that will best suit my student’s needs.”

New York native Anne M. Yuskevich has been working with children with special needs since high school, first as a volunteer and then as a staff member at Camp Anchor, a program for people with disabilities in Lido Beach. With the goal of becoming a speech pathologist, the UD Honors Program junior is majoring in cognitive science with a concentration in speech pathology and double minors in disabilities studies and psychology.

“I intend to work with children on the autism spectrum,” noted Yuskevich. “I realize, as I learn more about the field and myself, I may change my mind and want to move to an early intervention setting or a personal practice. Due to my experience working with [children and adults with autism], I see how greatly they can benefit from speech therapy, and I want to help them.”

About Autism Delaware

Autism Delaware is a nonprofit advocacy organization made up of individuals affected by autism, their family members, professionals, and friends. The organization’s mission is to create better lives for people and families affected by autism throughout Delaware. Autism is a complex, developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. Autism Delaware serves the entire state of Delaware with its offices in Newark and Milton. 

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