newson the spectrum new scholarship to assist autistic bridgewater college students

On the spectrum: New scholarship to assist autistic Bridgewater College students

bridgewater collegeIn fall 2022, Bridgewater College launched a student-centered, individual support group for students on the autism spectrum.

The college announced today a new endowed scholarship for students on the autism spectrum which will further strengthen Bridgewater College’s Academic and Social Experience (BASE) program.

Funded by the Shenandoah Valley Autism Partnership, the annual scholarship will provide for a student who identifies on the autism spectrum disorder. SVAP’s annual fundraising 5K held in April will enable the group to fund the scholarship.

Bridgewater’s BASE program is one of few of its kind in the Commonwealth, and was established to meet an existing need but also to provide resources not readily available in the state and surrounding region. The program supported nine students in its first year, and will support four in the coming academic year. Students receive peer mentorship, academic coaching, access to small group social events and career counseling exclusive to BASE, as well as early move-in and personalized guidance to facilitate the transition to college.

“Because the BASE program was new and we are all about community, we asked ourselves, ‘Where can we be the most impactful?’ The scholarship was one way we can do that,” Leila Cosby Longcor, an SVAP board member, said. “Our biggest hope is that it raises awareness for the program. These students are some of our thinkers and inventors, and we want to help build them for success.”

The first SVAP scholarship will be awarded in the 2023-2023 academic year.

“We are grateful for the ongoing support and partnership we will have with SVAP in establishing an endowed scholarship for students with autism at the College. The gift will have a tremendous impact on the lives of our students and their families for generations to come,” Margaret Benavides, Disability and BASE Program Coordinator at BC, said. “By helping students with autism spectrum disorder have better access to and more easily navigate higher education, the SVAP scholarship will allow students to focus on their academic, social and vocational goals.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.

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