Marissa Hacker Establishes Fantastic Friends Social Group to Reach Special Needs Students at Stockton College

Marissa Hacker, a freshman Communication Disorders major, learned one of the most important lessons in her life from her twin brother, Matthew, during high school.

Matthew was often excluded and ignored by his peers because he has autism. Seeing her brother emotionally hurt and knowing that there were many other teens out there being treated the same way, she decided to change that. She founded Fantastic Friends:  Teens and Tweens Special Needs Social Group, a national organization that provides a welcoming space for young adults, teens and tweens (ages 10-12) with special needs to socialize, relax and have fun through monthly meetings and special events.

Hacker, of Voorhees, said, “I wanted Matthew and other teens with special needs to have a place where they could make friends and feel accepted by their peers. It’s an organization to bring awareness and unconditional support and love. It’s like being a part of a giant family,” she said.

In her first semester at Stockton College, Hacker has already established a Fantastic Friends college chapter. A constitution has been written, a board selected and volunteers have been meeting in preparation for a full launch of the new student organization next semester. Those interested in getting involved can contact stocktonfantasticfriends@gmail.com.

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Ariel Miles Awarded Hughes Center Scholarship While Interning at the Nation’s Capital

The nation’s capital has been Ariel Miles’ classroom this semester.

The senior Political Science and Criminal Justice double major from Williamstown, NJ, is interning for The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, through the Washington Internship Program. She is researching expiring appropriations and bills passed in the last lame-duck session to help the institution strategically plan its efforts.

She was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy during a recent celebration of the Washington Internship Program’s 40th anniversary. The check was presented by Ambassador William J. Hughes, for whom the center is named.

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