Before Fiona became a teacher at The New England Center for Children—the world’s leading autism education and research institution—she grew up in Malaysia.
She always believed that more could be done in her country for children with special needs, especially if the issue of education was approached with a combination of compassion and scientific rigor.
It should be no surprise then that she ended up at NECC. They’ve done more than just teach children with autism over the past 44 years, they’ve pioneered new methods, technologies, and evidence-backed education plans to truly transform the lives of children.
Here’s Fiona’s story of coming to the United States to teach, learn, grow, and, ultimately, accomplish her dream of doing more for children with special needs.
How Fiona Came To NECC
While completing her degree in Malaysia, Fiona became particularly interested in evidence-backed, applied behavior analysis treatment (ABA) and education for children with autism. In order to become a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA), though, she would need to complete a master’s degree in the field. That’s when she heard about NECC.
Not only does NECC give its teachers the opportunity to work and learn in a best-in-class institution, but they also pay for their teachers to get master’s degrees like the one Fiona had in mind. That stroke of luck plus the institution’s focus on evidence-based treatment made Fiona and NECC a perfect match.
“NECC is such a well-known research center in the field of ABA that I knew working with the professors there would really help me progress and improve,” Fiona tells us.
She’s now been teaching, studying, and changing lives at NECC for nearly two years. She recently began her second-to-last semester in her ABA degree program, after which she can apply for board certification, which will take her teaching (and her career) to the next level.
Using Her Knowledge To Give Back—And Plan For A Brighter Future
Fiona’s path is unique, because advancing her career also means gaining the capacity to do even more good for children with autism.
“For now, I want to finish my research and get my degree,” Fiona explains. “But I know there is a lot more good I can do with another few years at NECC.”
While Fiona still has plenty more to learn from—and contribute—to NECC, she does have her eye on one day passing her knowledge on to fellow special education teachers and advocates back home in Malaysia.
“In the long run I do want to help Malaysia. ABA is a very new field in my country, so the BCBA profession is very rare,” Fiona explains. “And while I’m keeping an open mind about the future, I would like to go back one day and help other children in Malaysia.”
That would mean not only a dream come true for Fiona, but also a brighter future for children with autism in a whole other part of the world. And while her degree is an important part of her mission to affect change—the experiences she’s had at NECC will prove even more so.
Want to work with an institution that cares about (and pays for) your career-changing master’s degree? Check out open opportunities at NECC on WayUp!