Yadira De La Cruz ‘19

Yadira De La CruzUndergraduate Degree: Bachelors of Arts in Psychology with a specialization in Developmental Disabilities and Human Services

Current Position Title and Affiliation: Registered Behavioral Technician

Summary of Position:
In my position, I provide clinical skill instruction and behavior reduction protocols for children on the Autism spectrum and other behavior-related disabilities. I provide direct client care in a 1:1 setting and seek to motivate clients through positive reinforcement to increase socialization, play, and language skills, while working to minimize or eliminate maladaptive behaviors.

Future Goals:
I plan to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and someday open up my own practice in providing ABA services. I also dream of creating a non-profit organization that partners with daycares, schools, higher education, and/or adult facilities that works to create a social group for individuals on the autism spectrum (and individuals with other developmental disabilities) where people can develop social skills in a real and natural setting—creating long-lasting friendships.

What do you love most about this career path?
What I love most about my career path is being able to walk into work each day with some amazing children and see progress being made each and every session. I have the pleasure to work with some of the most loving, energetic, and motivated children I know and being able to see their growth and hard work payoff is something I truly admire. Although some days can be tough and a client may face many challenges, a few days later you can see them overcome that specific challenge with your assistance and it makes it all worthwhile. This is also a field that offers amazing opportunities for growth within a specific agency. In less than a year working in this field, I was able to grow from a behavioral therapist to a registered behavior technician, and I still have more opportunities for growth.

How did UMass and/or Psychological and Brain Sciences help prepare you?
UMass and the Psychological and Brain Sciences department really gave me a great foundation for my career path. When I first came to UMass, I didn't know what I wanted to do or what career path I would land on, I just knew I wanted to work with children with disabilities. During my time at UMass, I found so many resources that focused on disability services like joining the Boltwood project program, interning at a local all-inclusive preschool classroom, DDHS, and I even got the opportunity to go abroad to Scotland to attend the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities conference. I was able discover my strengths and find out what career path was right for me during my time at UMass.

Tips for Current Undergrads:
My best advice is to utilize the resources UMass has to offer and make connections with your professors! It'll make your college experience worthwhile and really help you for grad school applications, building a resume, and give you something to talk about for job interviews.