In October, the Kinney Center at St. Joe’s celebrated its 10th anniversary, with a decade worth of impacting the lives of both people with autism as well as the St. Joe’s students that work there, the Kinney Scholars.
The Kinney Center is currently home to about 90 Kinney Scholars who work with people as young as 2 years old and as old as 56. The program functions to let students gain experience while also offering a support system for students with autism.
The director of the Kinney Center, Angus Murray, said that first and foremost, they look for a passion and enthusiasm from prospective Kinney Scholars.
“Bottom line is we’re looking for people to come in here, do this job, roll their sleeves up, and jump in head first,” Murray said.
For Kinney Scholars, if they do “jump in head first” and begin working their summer between high school and the beginning of college, and follow the program throughout their time at St. Joe’s the experience they can gather is staggering. According to Murray, students can accumulate around 2,000 hours of experience.
“To come here and really dig in with this population, one you’re going to learn patience, two perseverance,” Murray said. “Folks that come in here obviously learn a lot about [people with autism], but I think they also end up learning a lot about themselves and who they are as a person. You’re going to be a lot more self aware.”
Kirstin Cox ‘21, a Kinney Scholar herself, said that the experience she has gained will be invaluable to the career she wants to pursue following her graduation.
“I get a lot of experience working one on one with the kids, getting mentored by the different program directors and grad assistants who I’m learning from in every program I work.”