Alumni Profile: Business grad shares how autism helped shape his career
Monday, October 22, 2018
Written by: Lauren Leetun for Seminole State
As is the case for many college students, Antonio “Tony” Hernandez Pumarejo started at Seminole State College of Florida after taking a temporary leave from higher education to work and save some money. Starting in 2009, Hernandez Pumarejo had originally gone to school in pursuit of a land surveying degree at a university back home in Puerto Rico; then upon moving to Florida in early 2012, he sought traditional work before setting his mind to going back to school.
When he began researching local higher education institutions, he had affordability and proximity top of mind, but he also considered an additional factor that he knew would help set him up for success. Having been diagnosed with autism at the age of three, it was important to Hernandez Pumarejo that the learning institution he chose to pursue his bachelor’s degree had the infrastructure and resources in place to help him succeed. He officially started as a student at Seminole State College in August 2013 and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Business and Information Management (BIM) in December 2016 – a feat he says might not have been possible without the assistance of Seminole State’s Disability Support Services (DSS) office.
“As a student with a disability, it was nice to have access to an entire department at the College that understood my needs and were willing to work with me, so I could achieve my desired outcomes,” he said.
Throughout his time at Seminole State and beyond, Hernandez Pumarejo made it a point to plug into autism and disability-related volunteer activities through which he knew he could offer valuable advice and service for others who might face similar challenges. In fact, for the last couple of years, Hernandez Pumarejo has served on the Board of Directors of the Autism Society of Greater Orlando and recently, as the fundraising coordinator for the ASD Adult Achievement Center. During his time with both organizations, he was able to reach out to community partners – including the Walmart Foundation – to raise funds that would help strengthen the resources available to those in the Central Florida autism community.
Today, Hernandez Pumarejo is using his degree in his role as an assistant manager with Sherwin Williams, where he applies lessons and skills that he learned during his time at Seminole State to successfully run his branch. He was especially grateful for the opportunity to participate in a capstone project through Seminole State, whereby he and other students in the BIM bachelor’s degree program worked closely with the City of Sanford to strategize and then implement a program for bringing affordable ride-share drives to senior citizens in the area through a grant from Uber.
When looking back at his time at Seminole State, Hernandez Pumarejo credits several of his professors as being the catalysts who helped move him toward a successful college and post-college career, namely Professor Terri Walsh, the program manager for business administration in the College's Accounting Department, and Tom Walker, professor of business administration, who was instrumental in teaching him critical skills in marketing, management, leadership and sales. He also credits Dr. Richard Calloway, professor and program manager of business and information management, for getting him involved in his capstone project.
Right now, Hernandez Pumarejo is finishing his first book, An Autism Unscripted Life. This is his autobiographical work about living – and succeeding – with autism.
The Foundation for Seminole State College, founded in 1968, is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation that enhances the College's programs and services through the development and management of private contributions, public grants and community partnerships. For more information, visit www.seminolestate.edu/foundation.About the Seminole State College Alumni Association
Seminole State College Alumni Association: The Seminole State College Alumni Association provides benefits and services for alumni as they continue their lifelong connection with Seminole State College of Florida, providing opportunities for them to network with one another, interact with the student body and support the College. To learn more, visit the Alumni Association website.About the Office of Disability Support Services
The Office of Disability Support Services (DSS) at Seminole State offers college constituents equity and excellence in education. By working with students, faculty and staff on all Seminole State campuses, DSS ensures that appropriate academic adjustments are made to give all students equal opportunities inside the classroom and around campus.