RSU’s Kirby Scott Graduates with Distinction Despite Disability

boy holding trophyFor Rogers State University recent graduate Kirby Scott, from Enid, graduating cum laude was a monumental achievement despite a discouraging diagnosis of autism at an early age.

“I felt accomplished and proud to wear the white stole of distinction for my cum laude achievement. Autism is a gift. It gives me a perspective not shared by the masses,” Scott said.

Scott was awarded the Outstanding Capstone Fall 2020 award for his short film Words in the Air, a story he wrote, narrated, illustrated, animated, edited and produced under the guidance and direction of Instructors Steven Rosser and Lee Williams

While students like Kirby fall outside the parameters of the typical college student, they often bring a distinctive and creative viewpoint to class discussions. Scott has developed the self-assurance and courage to allow the outside world into his unique and remarkable mind. His open-minded attitude toward new ideas and outside-the-box thinking is an integral attribute for an artist.

“The visual arts have always been driven by the exceptional and unorthodox thinkers,” Rosser said. “I feel it a dire misunderstanding to devalue these students in any way, particularly in the arts. These are often the very individuals driving their respective media forward with unconventional ideas and unique solutions to old ideas.”

Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions and leisure or play activities. 

“For a time I was non-verbal and it was important that my family embraced my differences and treated me equally. That level of support is extremely vital for people with autism, to not have limitations placed on them by others,” Scott said. 

Autism greatly varies from person to person. Understanding autism’s strengths is important for providing support for those with the condition. Scott has learned to adapt and approach situations with patience and grace.

“Acceptance and understanding are the keys for finding a neutral ground when dealing with the complexities of autism,” Scott said. “I have learned to be patient and calm, to ask questions, and to sort through challenges and challenging people with kindness and sincerity.”

At RSU, he felt valued, respected and understood. 

“I really appreciated the personal attention and small class sizes at Rogers State. I feel like I got to know my professors very well, and they got to know me and understand my unique characteristics, which made me more passionate about my studies,” Scott said.  

As a student, Scott completed an internship with the City of Enid’s communication’s department. He looks forward to a career in videography, graphic design and website publishing.

“I am excited by his development, conviction and courage to share his work. I see him not only creating great things in the future but serving as an outstanding example for others,” Rosser said.

There is beauty in autism, and Scott is breaking the stigma and definition of disability.

“A disability should not limit someone from their dreams and goals. Finding a mentor or a supportive family member, someone you can count on to help you navigate uncertain paths, is important. Always push forward,” Scott said.

RSU is committed to providing students with disabilities equal access to educational programs and services. For information about RSU’s disability services, visit www.rsu.edu/disabilityservices or contact Jeana Rae Conn at 918-343-6828.