Glendora, CA. —The Autism Society of California, the Finnigan Family, and the Community Foundation for Monterey County announced the names of the inaugural Matthew Paul Finnigan Memorial Scholarship award for the 2015/16 School Year.
High school graduates were awarded the scholarships for the 2015/2016 school year. Jong Ho Lee was awarded a $1,500 scholarship and Clayton Marnin was awarded a $500 scholarship.
Jong Ho ranked in the top 17% of his class and was part of his school's Philharmonic Orchestra on violin. In addition, he volunteered on Tech Staff, an elite group of students on campus who assisted the LAN administrator. Jong Ho will pursue a degree in Environmental Science and hopes to find ways to improve the environment, and as a result, people’s health.
Clayton Marnin worked each summer of his High School career, volunteered during the school year as a classroom assistant at an elementary school, and graduated with a 3.5 GPA. Clayton plans to attend a four year university to fulfill his dream of becoming a video game designer.
The Matthew Paul Finnigan Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in memory of Matthew Finnigan, a high-functioning adult with autism whose life was taken before he could achieve his goal of helping others on the Autism Spectrum. Matthew was attending college in Monterey and had visions of going into graduate school to use his strengths in Math, Chemistry and Statistics, as well as a growing interest in Psychiatry and Psychology, to support research to help adolescents on the Autism Spectrum.
Envisioning his life five years into the future, Matthew wrote: "I have been selected to assist our current supervisor in the task of collecting and analyzing statistics pertaining to Asperger’s Diagnosis and Treatment. I have been studying high school students and the effect their disorder has on them, and now I am using the data collected to see if I can find any trends relating biological and environmental factors and personal development that might indicate a reduction in the symptoms of Asperger’s." Reflecting on being prepared for death and recognizing that which is truly important in life, Matthew wrote that "you have a legacy that will live on as long as the stories about you keep being told" and reminded his reader to "always look on the bright side of life."
Tim Finnigan, Matthew’s father and the Finnigan family established this scholarship to cerry on this legacy.
“My son Matthew was an adult with Autism, with very high intelligence, who struggled with the challenges of Autism throughout his life. As he entered adulthood he began to “find himself” while attending college in Monterey. He decided he wanted to dedicate his life to those who suffered like he did, to ease their pain and help remedy their ailment. Through the award of this inaugural scholarship, Matthew’s desire to help others on the spectrum is being honored. I am also honored to have had the fortune of working with The Autism Society and the Community Foundation for Monterey County and be a part of providing this scholarship to Jong Ho Lee and Clayton Marnin.”
Established at the Community Foundation for Monterey County with gifts from the Finnigan Family and friends, along with matching funds from Chevron, this permanently endowed fund will help students with a similar diagnosis and interests, so that Matthew’s goals and vision for his life might live on in others.
The Matthew Paul Finnigan Memorial Scholarship program was open to California students with an autism diagnosis pursuing full-time or part-time education in the fields of Psychiatry, Psychology, Statistics, Chemistry, Math, researching cures or management of autism, or a career which will help adolescents on the Autism Spectrum.
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