Courage to Succeed Blog

Pop Smith Scholarship recipient says thanks

Paul Switzer, far right

Paul Switzer, a recent recipient of UMFS’ Pop Smith Scholarship, is learning, growing and overcoming the obstacles that face students with autism spectrum disorder in pursuit of higher education. Yesterday, UMFS honored Paul and two other recipients of the scholarship at a reception celebrating the students’ successes and thanking the many donors and supporters who have helped to make the Pop Smith Scholarship possible.

Paul participates in Charterhouse School’s Courage to Succeed program, designed to assist students as they progress through college, prepare for employment and, ultimately, become contributing members of their communities. “The Courage to Succeed program has been phenomenally helpful to me in college and in life,” says Paul. “I could barely look people in the eye or talk to people before this program….. now, eye contact is 2nd nature to me and I can carry on a conversation. In addition, the program has provided a set of great friends.”

The cost of the program is high, but thanks to the Pop Smith Scholarship, Paul is able to continue to learn and grow. “My parents were struggling to keep up with payments…but the Pop Smith Scholarship has been wonderful in helping to keep me in the program. I honestly can’t thank the committee enough,” says Paul.

The Pop Smith Scholarship fund provides financial assistance to students who have been served by UMFS and can benefit from post-secondary education including college or vocational training. The Scholarship is named for the Reverend E. Leon “Pop” Smith who was the executive director of the Virginia Methodist Children’s Home, now UMFS, from 1949 to 1974.