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Murray State Graduate Establishes Scholarship for Students on the Autism Spectrum

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Tall, dark-haired and slender, Ray Chumbler IV is a recent magna cum laude graduate of Murray State University in Non-Profit Leadership Studies. He's also been a student ambassador for the Office of Student Disability Services, working to increase an awareness about people who are on the autism spectrum, like he is. He shares his experience living with autism, being diagnosed as a teenager and his hopes for the Ray Chumbler IV Autism Scholarship Endowment scholarship with Kate Lochte on Sounds Good.

The idea for a scholarship started from a senior project in high school where Ray Chumbler had to fulfill a community service portion. He visited the disabilities office and looked into Murray State for a scholarship for people on the autism spectrum. He raised money and started the scholarship, which he hopes will be around $15-16 thousand dollars after some donations come in.

"I hope that when an autistic student comes to Murray State and they find out about this scholarship, they will know that the university does genuinely care about them and wants to help them succeed in any way they can. And that one area that they're helping would be financial as well as educational and providing necessary services they need, and overall to just let them know that Murray State University does care about those of us who are on the spectrum."

Autism is not a disease, Chumbler says, but a way of being - so there is no cure needed. He adds that there are many positive traits, like hyper-focusing on subjects for long periods of time. "People need to understand that not all of us are like Rain Man," he says. In high school, he liked the mathematical symbol pi and memorized 1,036 digits which he presented to audiences of fellow students and teachers. In college, he enjoyed his major, Non-Profit Leadership. Now, he's focusing on how autistic people can become employed and how there can be better services through grade school and high school.

Chumbler says he wasn't diagnosed until he was 13. Before that, he felt different and knew he was different but didn't know why or how. He also felt socially isolated from his peers. To him, the diagnosis made sense. After that, he finally got the services he needed, like longer times to take exams, the ability to return to his locker to get something if he forgot it and help with note taking in English class. Ne never had a problem asking for things he needed and in college told his professors he was autistic so that he could get the services he needed.

He says he would like to see more understanding and acceptance on the behalf of educators. He felt in middle school that they didn't really want to give him the services he needed but rather felt they had to out of obligation. He says he'd also like to see a program where people on the autism spectrum could be paired with "neuro-typical" people so that they can learn more socially.

To give to the autism scholarship, contact Jennie Rottinghaus at 270-809-3406 or at, go to (fill out the initial form and then select the scholarship), or mail a check to MSU Foundation, c/o 200 Heritage Hall, Murray, KY 42071 and put "Ray IV Autism Scholarship Endowment" on the check.

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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