Computer science grad with autism pursuing career opportunities KENNESAW‚ Ga. (Jan. 8, 2016…
Georgia (Jan 8, 2016) —
Computer science grad with autism pursuing career opportunities
KENNESAW‚ Ga. (Jan. 8, 2016) — After earning his computer science degree from Kennesaw State University in December, Jordan White is hoping to find a job close to home.
However, the Kennesaw native says he won’t hesitate to move anywhere in the country to pursue his goal of becoming a website and mobile application developer.
“Though I do prefer to work in Atlanta, I am willing to work anywhere else in the United States,” he said. “If something really attracts me, then I can go for that job.”
That type of independence isn’t always associated with people with autism, which Jordan, 24, was diagnosed with at age 3. Statistics show that fewer than 20 percent of young adults ages 21 to 25 on the autism spectrum ever have lived independently.
While Jordan always has lived with his parents, he in many ways was a typical college student. He comes and goes as he wants from the basement of the family home, which was converted into a makeshift dorm room for Jordan when he started at Kennesaw State. He also drives his car, does his laundry and prepares his meals. Jordan’s classes were part of the KSU curriculum rather than ones designed for students with disabilities.
“Jordan was in regular classes with regular kids, just like anybody else,” said his father, David White. “He is a high-functioning autistic person, he has earned a college degree and he has the skills and work ethic to be a good employee.”
Jordan worked hard at KSU and earned his computer science degree in five years – the same length of time, he points out, that his father took to graduate from college. The elder White is an electrical engineer and also a part-time professor in Kennesaw State’s Coles College of Business.
“I feel really satisfied that I managed to complete this large step in my life,” Jordan said. “It means quite a bit to me.”
Both he and his father credit Kennesaw State with providing an environment for Jordan to succeed. Along with enrolling Jordan in classes, the university connected him with the campus psychologist, psychiatrist, dietician, personal trainer and social skills support group.
“KSU seemed to really work with me,” he said. “I have to consider myself blessed.”
“This is an experience I think a lot of people learned from – not just Jordan,” his father said. “We are a university that is not afraid to try new things and push the boundaries in certain ways. This is one of the many things that makes Kennesaw State a great leaning environment.”
Jordan acknowledged that he often had emotional outbursts related to his autism when he was younger, but he learned to control his behavior in the classroom other than occasionally fidgeting in his seat or drumming his fingers. It also helped that his KSU professors, along with being good teachers, were understanding and open-minded.
“There were several professors on campus who had experience with autistic people because they were fathers or mothers of autistic children,” Jordan said. “Or, even if they hadn’t taught people with autism before, they seemed to understand autism.”
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— Paul Floeckher
Photos by David Caselli
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.