On September 10th the annual SPARK Mentorship Program began, led by Kelsey Bohlke, who is a counselor at the Emory Autism Center. Emory student mentors meet every Thursday to work with our assigned mentee, who is on the Autism Spectrum, to develop strong leadership and communication skills. Our goal is to help these individuals succeed in their current and future endeavors whether that is applying for a job, preparing for an interview, or giving a presentation in front of colleagues or other students. Each week we spend our hour long sessions focusing on specific activities, such as resume building.
I joined the program as a mentor because of my strong interest in working with college students and adults who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. I’ve learned how to communicate with a diverse group of people and present myself as a professional through my own experiences working a job and attending several interviews; I’ve always wanted to share that knowledge with someone who is looking for it. It is so beautiful to hear the passions my mentee wants to pursue. He wants to become a computer engineer and hearing his excitement while speaking about his experience attending tech camps and learning new programming languages motivates me to help him as much as I can so he can accomplish his goal.
Overall, the SPARK Mentorship Program is a great opportunity to meet new people and is yet another example of how individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder can still be successful in their careers. All the wonderful accomplishments of the mentees in the are further proof of that. I’m excited to continue working with my mentee this semester and hear about all the things he achieves during his sophomore year of college, which he starts this Spring. I admire programs like SPARK because they continue to show that Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a disease by any means; instead it is simply a difference in how one thinks and processes information.