Youth Advocate Programs Scholarship Furthers Student’s Hope of Helping those who like himself, live with Autism Spectrum Disorder

This story is part of an ongoing series featuring the 2018 Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. (YAP) Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education Scholarship award winners.

Growing up with Asperger’s syndrome, David Chapman benefitted so much from having an advocate at his side that as a young adult, he is working to become one, himself.

“I worked with David as a young child until he was in fourth grade. He is on the spectrum and he got back in touch with me a few years ago to let me know he had finished school,” said Susan Fuller, who worked for more than 15 years for Youth Advocate Programs (YAP). David was among the dozens of young people she supported in her role as a technical support specialist, providing individualized toolkits for day-to-day living in school, with family members and in their communities.

In addition to working for his local fire department, David recently started working for YAP in Crawford, Pa. When he shared with Susan that his ultimate career goal is to support children in the way that she empowered him, she reminded him of one of the tools available to individuals and families served by YAP. Funded largely by YAP employees, the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing education scholarship is a $1,000 award that helps turn college and career dreams into reality.

“He is very intelligent and is wanting to help others deal with some of the problems he had in his childhood,” Susan wrote in a letter of recommendation encouraging YAP to select David for the scholarship. “I contributed to this fund over 17 years and feel good it may go to someone like David. He is well deserving of this scholarship,” she wrote.

David recently received an acceptance letter, learning that he is among the YAP 2018 YAP Endowment Fund scholarship recipients. He chose to apply his award to the purchase of a laptop computer, which he is using now as an Edinboro University freshman majoring in psychology.

“I benefited from the [YAP] program because Sue taught me coping skills that I still use to this day,” David said. “My dream is to work with children with autism and advocate for them,” he said.