A young man recently penned an honest cover letter to his future employer and posted it on LinkedIn, where it eventually went viral. “My name is Ryan Lowry, I am 19 years old, I live in Leesburg, Virginia, and I have autism,” he wrote.
In his letter, Lowry goes on to explain that he has a unique sense of humor, he’s gifted at math and technology and is a quick learner. He wrote the letter with one goal: to get a job in animation or IT.
“I realize that someone like you will have to take a chance on me, I don’t learn like typical people do,” Lowry wrote. “I would need a mentor to teach me, but I learn quickly, once you explain it, I get it. I promise that if you hire me and teach me, you’ll be glad that you did.”
Lowry assures his future employer he will show up every day and work hard, and his sincerity and determination touched many people. The post received more than 180,000 reactions and more than 6,000 comments on LinkedIn.
One of the people who saw the post was a man named Aaron Parry, an executive at a 3D and animation studio.
Parry brought Lowry’s story to Exceptional Minds, an academy and studio for digital artists and animators with autism. David Siegel, executive director at Exceptional Minds, knew Lowry was a perfect candidate for the academy, which trains people with autism in the art of animation and helps them with job placement.
“We see it every day with our students and our graduates…what makes you different makes you extraordinary,” Siegel told CBS News. “And what [Lowry] did stood out to myself as the leader of this organization and frankly everyone everyone that’s part of our team here as truly something extraordinary.”
“He approached this with grace, with humility, with vulnerability and frankly, with a very clear ask, ‘I want to work in animation,'” Siegle continued. He said after reading Lowry’s post, Exceptional Minds felt they had “no choice” other than to offer him a scholarship to the Exceptional Minds summer program.
Parry’s company sponsored the scholarship for Lowry and Exceptional Minds decided to surprise him and his family, virtually, with the offer. “It was really exciting to watch it unfold and to see their surprise, it was really beautiful and it was authentic. And I think it was a beautiful way to close the loop on part of this story, which frankly, has just begun,” Siegel said.
Lowry will now take virtual classes for eight weeks of summer through Exceptional Minds.
While the animation classes are usually held at Exceptional Minds studio in California, the classes are virtual due to the pandemic. But Siegel said teaching this way allows the organization to reach more students who may not don’t have physical or socioeconomic ability to get to take in-person classes with them.
“Ryan is just another amazing example of when you use your authentic voice, whether you have autism or no matter where you’re coming from, that authentic voice has lead him here,” Siegle said. “He was serving frankly, as a self-advocate, and I think what he’s become is a role model for the autism community.”