A young man from Leesburg, Virginia, is looking forward to an extraordinary summer, when he takes part in an animation-production program.
But it’s how Ryan Lowry landed a scholarship for the program that is even more extraordinary.
A handwritten cover letter from the 20-year-old — who is on the autism spectrum — went viral on LinkedIn.
“I am interested in a job in animation, or in IT,” Ryan Lowry wrote to a potential future employer a few weeks back. “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.”
Among those who took notice: Dell, DreamWorks and Exceptional Minds, which is a nonprofit training academy and studio designed to prepare those on the spectrum for careers in the digital arts.
It also drew the attention of “NBC Nightly News.” And he learned about the scholarship from anchor Lester Holt himself during a recent Zoom interview.
“When we really started this whole unexpected journey — because Ryan wants to get a job in animation — we didn’t know about [Exceptional Minds] until we posted his letter on LinkedIn,” father Rob Lowry told WTOP.
It all began when he started a profile on the business-networking platform. That handwritten letter was his first post.
“And he did so in his own handwriting, which turns out to be a whole thing,” Rob Lowry said, “because everyone loves his handwriting and it’s very unique.”
“And we’ve had some folks say, ‘Well, you know, we should do something with that font.'”
That distinctive handwriting and the direct message it conveyed caught on quickly — at one point drawing a half-million views a day. Since it was posted a few weeks ago, it has reached 7 million views. The attention was so overwhelming that LinkedIn briefly shut down his account when they feared he was up to no good.
“We got in touch with them,” Rob Lowry said. “They were great about opening it back up. And they’ve been really supportive of the whole thing.”
As for Ryan’s take on all this, his father thinks he’s not as impressed as the rest of America.
“I think really what he wants — and what he wrote the letter for — is because he wants a job in animation, and all this other stuff,” he said.
And it’s that drive, his parents believe, that could lead to extraordinary success.
“I’ve always said that when we match his intellect with something that he actually is passionate about, then, you know, the sky’s the limit,” Rob Lowry said, “and we’re hoping that animation is that.”
WTOP’s Luke Lukert contributed to this report.