SHELTON — Jim DeFrancesco of Shelton is one of the recipients of the University of New Haven’s Intercultural Excellence Award.

DeFrancesco, a senior, was instrumental in establishing the Autism Spectrum Disorder Network, a student organization for those on the autism spectrum. The club was founded by one of DeFrancesco’s friends, Jon Renaud of Branford, and he joined in the early stages.

“I was the sergeant at arms and head of outreach for the organization since its formation, playing a large role in planning and running events on and off campus,” said DeFrancesco.

DeFrancesco said he was also chosen as a member of the university’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access Council, a group that advises the president and campus community on issues related to diversity at the school.

“I also helped the Dean of Students’ office spread awareness of the resources the university has for students with autism,” said DeFrancesco, “and worked with the school’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center to launch iConnect, a social group for students who feel that they have trouble connecting with others at the university.”

The recipients were to be honored at an awards ceremony in March, but that event was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The awards were presented in a series of videos on social media.

DeFrancesco will be earning a bachelor’s degree in forensic science. He will be remaining at the University of New Haven to work on a master’s degree in cellular and molecular biology, he said.