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Student with autism earns accounting degree

by Penn State Berks

May 10, 2019

WYOMISSING, Pa.––When Mark Fischer walked across the stage to accept his diploma in Accounting, it was a triumphant moment in a somewhat challenging journey. Fischer, who was diagnosed with autism in elementary school, graduated from Penn State Berks on Saturday, May 4, during the afternoon commencement ceremony.

Fischer credits the college’s Student Disability Resources Center, and its coordinator Michelle Peasley in particular, with helping him during his time at Penn State Berks. By working with the Center, he received accommodations, such as extended testing time, that helped make it possible for him to pursue his degree.

He explains that he always wanted to go to Penn State and chose the Berks campus because it was close to his home in Sinking Spring, and because his father is an adjunct faculty member for the college. 

Fischer goes on to state that he had been diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, a part of the autism spectrum disorder distinguished by strong intellectual ability. He goes on to say that he is “really introverted and finds it hard to socialize,” common traits among people with Aspergers. However he felt comfortable at Penn State Berks from the start because of the tight-knit community of students, faculty and staff. The smaller classes and one-on-one attention from his professors put him at ease, adding that it his fellow students were welcoming and friendly.

One professor, in particular, who made a difference in Fischer’s time at the college was Mike Simon III, Lecturer in Accounting and Program Coordinator of the Accounting degree. Simon felt the same way about Fischer, stating, “Mark is an awesome young man and has been an excellent student. He always participates in class discussions and executes his assignments very well. I will definitely miss seeing him regularly when he graduates.”

During his time at the college, Fischer completed an accounting internship with Stokesay Castle and was a member of the Student Accounting Association on campus. 

When asked how Penn State Berks has prepared him for the future, he states, “The professors have real-world experience; they showed me how the business world works and how accounting fits in.”

Fischer, who is currently searching for a position in his field, states, “I like the idea of looking over a company’s finances and organizing them. The accounting major will make that possible.” 

Any company will be lucky to hire such a determined employee.

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