The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., Congratulates Scholarship Winner Scott Schmal

Scott Schmal

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. is proud to announce that Scott Schmal is the student recipient of its 2023 Avonte Oquendo Memorial Scholarship for Autism. Each year, the firm offers a $5,000 higher education scholarship in memory of Avonte Oquendo, a nonverbal 14-year-old boy with autism who left his Queens public school undetected in 2013 and tragically drowned in the East River. David Perecman, Founder and Lead Trial Lawyer at The Perecman Firm, had represented Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, in a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her son.

The Perecman Firm offers the scholarship annually to directly benefit students living with autism and those with a close family member diagnosed with autism. This year, the firm received hundreds of scholarship applications and inspiring essays from bright and talented students across the nation. The firm is pleased to select Scott as this year’s recipient.

Scott is a sophomore at Rowan University pursuing a degree in geology with aspirations to one day become a paleontologist. Scott’s essay detailed his life and experiences, including being diagnosed with autism in eighth grade and overcoming struggles with writing and socialization while growing up. Scott enrolled in Rowan’s Preparation and Achievement in the Transition to Hire (PATH) program in his first year of college. He credits the program’s resources and his ongoing advisor meetings as instrumental to his academic success. He completed his first year at Rowan with a 4.0 GPA and achieved other personal achievements in the last year, like obtaining his driver’s license and moving out on his own.

The attorneys at The Perecman Firm are committed to keeping Avonte’s story alive and helping students diagnosed with a form of autism and their families pursue higher education, something many in the autism community are not able to make possible due to the rising costs of higher education.

“We at The Perecman Firm are extremely proud to award this year’s Avonte Oquendo Memorial Scholarship for Autism to Scott Schmal. Scott is an exceptionally talented individual who achieved academic and personal success throughout his freshman year,” said Perecman. “We offer this scholarship annually in memory of Avonte Oquendo, a young student living with autism whose life tragically ended too soon. In his honor, we strive to help students living with autism and those directly impacted by autism pursue higher education opportunities that will ultimately further their career interests.”

For over 40 years, David H. Perecman has distinguished himself as one of the leading personal injury lawyers in New York City, championing all types of personal injury cases including construction accidents, premises accidents, automobile accidents, and medical malpractice, along with employment discrimination, false arrest, and civil rights cases.