Matthew Curtis, a third-year Berkshire Center student, has been chosen by the Asperger Association of New England (AANE) to receive the Dandurand Award for Exceptional Achievement. Matthew was presented with this prestigious award at Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts on Saturday, April 10th, 2010.
Matthew was nominated by his academic coordinator, Jeff Wheeler, M.Ed., at the CIP Berkshire Center. Below is an excerpt from Jeff Wheeler’s nomination containing some of the accomplishments Matthew has made:
“It has been my pleasure to witness the extraordinary growth in maturity, responsibility, and autonomy in this student since his arrival in our program three years ago. I have seen Matt grow from a timid adolescent who understood very little about his diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome into a young man of confidence and competence who has learned about and accepted himself.
Matthew will graduate from Berkshire Community College in May of this year with a Human Services Certificate and plans to continue his education in pursuit of an Associate’s Degree in Human Services. Matt has distinguished himself as an intern at Berkshire County Adult Retarded Citizens during the summer of 2009 and during the Spring 2010 college semester. He serves as the vice president of the student senate at CIP and demonstrates tremendous compassion and leadership with his fellow students here in our program.”
Matthew was awarded by Zosia Zaks, an adult with Asperger syndrome who was invited by AANE to hold a workshop outlining some of the major challenges that make work difficult for people on the autism spectrum and offering concrete and creative strategies for dealing with these issues.
Matthew’s Acceptance Speech
Thank you. I feel very honored to receive this award today. I would like to thank everyone at AANE: Robin Lurie-Meyerkopf, Kathy Brock, Daniea Jeckel, and I would especially like to thank Ken Dandurand who made this all possible. I would also like to thank everyone at the College Internship Program who have provided me the support and encouragement to succeed.
I’m not going to go through all of them today; but I would like to thank Holly Brouker who is sitting here today. She has helped me a great deal in working towards my goal of attaining a career in the Human
Services field. Most of all, I would like to thank my parents whose love and support have helped me so much in overcoming the challenges of my learning disability. Again, thank you so much for this honor.