Lester Holt Surprises Virginia 20-Year-Old on the Autism Spectrum With Animation Scholarship

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Haley Bosselman
·2 min read
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After his handwritten cover letter went viral on LinkedIn, professional training academy and studio Exceptional Minds offered Ryan Lowry, who is on the autism spectrum, a scholarship to its summer animation program.

“I am interested in a job in animation, or in IT,” Lowry wrote in the viral letter to his potential future employer. “I realize that someone like you will have to take a chance on me, I don’t learn like typical people do. I would need a mentor to teach me, but I learn quickly, once you explain it, I get it.”

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Lester Holt surprised Lowry and his parents with the scholarship during a segment on “NBC Nightly News.” He mentioned the letter also caught the eye of Dell and Dreamworks, among others.

“He needs to be able to live independently, so that’s the mission,” Lowry’s father said. “Couldn’t be any prouder.”

Exceptional Minds prepares young adults on the autism spectrum for careers in the digital arts, giving agency to students through a training program that speaks to their needs and prepares them for careers in the competitive entertainment industry. Based in Sherman Oaks, Calif., the nonprofit school stands apart from other programs for people on the autism spectrum by going beyond low-level training.

Alumni of the school, which first started in 2012, have gone on to work for Marvel, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. Just last year, Exceptional Minds artists Dylan Carbonell and Jacob Lenard animated “Sesame Street: Story Time with Julia and Samuel: Super Fluffster,” a special that focuses on the show’s first autistic character.

Lowry will journey from his Leesburg, Va., hometown to attend the program.

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