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Kean University

Kean University Graduate Turns Challenges into Advocacy

Aidan Allman-Cooper poses in front of his likeness in a mural at Kean

Kean graduate Aidan Allman-Cooper '24, poses in front of a mural at the Human Rights Institute Gallery at Kean, which includes his likeness.

Kean University graduate Aidan Allman-Cooper ’24 turned his experiences as an autistic person into a career in education and advocacy work. 

Allman-Cooper, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history education summa cum laude with certification to teach students with disabilities, plans to teach at a special needs school after graduation. His long-range plans include law school to blend his “passion for advocacy” with legal expertise.

“The combination of history and education allows me to engage with subjects I love, while making a tangible difference in students’ lives,” said Allman-Cooper, of Watchung. “Being autistic and physically disabled, I've encountered numerous hurdles. Kean presented a supportive environment that felt like the right place to foster my academic and personal growth. It has indeed been one of the best decisions of my life.”

After being bullied in high school, Allman-Cooper started an educational consulting company, SECA Organization LLC, and a pro bono clinic to help special needs students and their families. His consulting firm and clinic now help students and their families navigate complex education matters such as Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). 

In 2020, at the age of 18, Allman-Cooper teamed up with a friend to write This is Autism, a collection of personal stories shedding light on the diverse experiences within the autism community.  

Then in 2022, he was named Outstanding Student Human Rights Activist at Kean’s Human Rights Conference for his philanthropic work, which also includes serving as an officer for the New Jersey Association for Gifted Children.

“Being awarded the Outstanding Student Human Rights Activist of the Year Award was one of the most humbling, positive experiences of my life,” he said. “I am grateful to all of the people who supported me and never gave up on me, my family, friends, the wonderful people at Kean, and all of the families and children within the special needs community.”

Allman-Cooper said his mentors at Kean supported him through his educational journey, including his supervisor during two semesters of student teaching at Union High School. He said College of Education Adjunct Clinical Supervisor Jean Perkins was “one of the most impactful people in my life.”

Perkins said he was a well-prepared and engaging student teacher, who wore a jacket and tie to school each day, and was extremely  knowledgeable about his subject. He created a civics unit for an AP Government class, an extra endeavor which she said was both informative and engaging for students.

Perkins also said she and Allman-Cooper shared similar views on many things, including agreeing that “kindness is never wasted.”

“Aidan is a most gifted and able young man, who is aware of what he often terms as blessings, and will offer them generously to others,” Perkins said.  “I have every confidence that he will accomplish his present goals and will continue to pursue goals yet unknown.