Over the mid semester break, 11 students from the Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM) program traveled to New York City.
AIM provides many great opportunities such as this one for their students year after year. The students that go on these trips are the students that are part of AIM’s Career Path program.
Brad McGarry, director of the AIM program, is one of the people who made this trip, and other trips alike, possible.
McGarry explained that this trip was “a vocational exposure experience” and “it is where the students meet with top executives, participate in vocational training and collaborate with autism advocacy groups.”
There are many reasons that trips such as these take place, but the primary reason is “to build internship and vocational resources for our students and to raise awareness to encourage more business to promote autism employment initiatives,” McGarry said.
Some of the opportunities the students had on the trip include visiting the American Museum of Natural History, attending Autism Speaks, and meeting with officials from Google, Ernst & Young and many more successful business people.
Rachel Wilson, a sophomore English major who is part of the AIM program, was one of the students who went on the trip. She spoke about the program and also gave some of her favorite highlights from NYC.
“AIM is so wonderful because everyone is the program is so helpful. The autism unemployment rate is so high, and they really take the time to work with all of us to make sure that we have great employment opportunities,” said Wilson. “My favorite parts were going and visiting with people at Autism Speaks, visiting the United Nations and getting a tour of the American Museum of Natural History.”
As if going to New York City and having all of these great experiences was not enough, the group was followed around by a camera crew during their trip as well. Their experiences and the Mercyhurst AIM program is to be a part of a Netflix documentary.
“The program has positioned itself nationally in the discussion pertaining to autism employment. Due to this we were connected with a film company in San Francisco that is producing the documentary ‘The Business of Autism,’” McGarry said.
The documentary is set to air sometime in April 2018.