Kyle Cotton

by Kyle Swenson

Kyle Cotton is a 27-year-old Texas native majoring in Journalism at the University of Texas Arlington, who has overcome personal adversity and hardships to achieve his dreams of becoming a journalist.

These personal struggles have inflicted Cotton since he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at nine or 10 years old. This disease made it difficult for Cotton to relate socially to others, but Cotton did not let this condition define him.

Cotton’s path to where he is today has been anything but traditional. Upon finishing high school, Cotton went off to college but soon realized he had chosen the wrong school.

This realization led Cotton to leave his first school, and go back home to San Antonio and attend the state college there. Here Cotton honed his journalism skills, and began writing for the college newspaper, The Ranger.

While at The Ranger, Cotton wrote several stories on major campus events and even penned an opinion story about his life titled, “Don’t Let Autism Define You.”

In the story, Cotton dove into his life and explained how growing up with Asperger’s syndrome impacted him.

“Today, I’ve come a long way from being that alienated kid, and most who interact with me today don’t even know I have autism unless I point it out,” Cotton wrote. “Despite the gains, I’ve made in self-improvement over the years, the pain still lingers of being treated like an outcast and not understanding why.”

Cotton was not exaggerating when he said he has come a long way from being an alienated kid. Since that time, Cotton has worked on comprehending social behavior and has grown up to be an award-winning student journalist.

After completing his Associates degree at San Antonio College, Cotton went off to UTA and instantly got involved with the school paper the ShortHorn where he met the paper’s Newsroom Advisor, Laurie Fox.

Fox describes Cotton as a naturally curious and observational reporter. Fox believes these tendencies make him an insightful journalist

“He’s very intense. He’s very curious,” Fox said. “I always tell him he has a lot of trains running in his head. He just has so many ideas, he’s really is on a mission to tell interesting big stories.”

Cotton’s first experience with Fox and the ShortHorn illustrated not only his intensity but also his natural curiosity.

“I think he was interviewing us as much as we were interviewing him,” Fox recalled.

Cotton will have plenty of opportunities to use his natural skills this summer as he interns at the San Antonio Business Journal.

Cotton has been told he will be a jack of all trades reporter, who that will be utilized in various capacities at the paper. This will be Cotton’s first journalism internship, and he is excited to learn how to cover business news and take his reporting to the next level.

“I’ve been working hard for so long and it’s nice to accomplish something with no downside,” Cotton said.

Cotton is looking forward to connecting the dots on major news and finding stories missing puzzle pieces.

Cotton believes that he is uniquely qualified to do this because of his Asperger’s syndrome.

“My condition has been an asset for me in my career, as it allows me to continue pulling on multiple research threads that I think most would find overwhelming on such short turnarounds,” Cotton said. “The symbol for autism is a puzzle piece. Ironically, when I’m working on a story, particularly a big story, it’s like I know what pieces I need and how to put everything together.”