Therapy room at Lighthouse Autism Center with toys on a table with blue chairs and book shelves above

Lighthouse Autism Center Staff Spotlight: Ana

Ana’s  Lighthouse Autism Center Journey

Ana is a Senior Therapist and Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) Trainer at Lighthouse Autism Center – Kalamazoo, bringing her expertise since joining in February 2022. She holds a degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Western Michigan University. Originally from Costa Rica, Ana has lived in four countries before settling in Kalamazoo seven years ago. Outside of her work, Ana enjoys a variety of hobbies including watching TV shows, playing tennis, going on leisurely walks with her cat Lio, and cherishing moments with her friends and family. Her vibrant personality and diverse experiences enrich our team at Lighthouse Autism Center every day.

What made you decide to apply to Lighthouse?

I’ve always had a passion for education, working with children and helping others. After graduating from WMU, as I was looking for a job, I came across various postings. But LAC’s job posting caught my attention, it was light, fun and it just gave me a “this might be it” feeling. And I guess I was right, after having my interview with Avery Blackburn I just knew I was in the right place.

What is your favorite part of working at Lighthouse Autism Center?

My favorite part about working at Lighthouse is watching the learners achieve goals and overcome challenges, and alongside their technicians and clinical team putting their heart and soul into creating opportunities for the learners to accomplish this. Every single learner I’ve worked with has a piece of my heart; they’re the best part about working at Lighthouse. 

How would you describe your experience working for Lighthouse?

Lighthouse is a place of love and acceptance where everyone is welcomed. When I first started at Lighthouse, I thought not having any ABA knowledge or having English as my second language would’ve been barriers that wouldn’t let me succeed as much as I wanted to. But the Pod 3 team, especially my previous supervisor, Dani Boden, and fellow desk trainer Meg McCaw, gave me the confidence and tools to succeed and prosper. I’ve learned and grown so much over the years at Lighthouse. I’m eternally grateful for the clinical team I get to work with every day- Becca, Emilie, Avery, Niki, Clare, Katie, Mikaela, Grace, Michaela, and Lexie. They have all taught me valuable lessons that make me the desk trainer I am today. I’m so happy to have found a place were coming to work is a pleasure instead of an obligation, and I thank my coworkers for making our center such a fun place to work at. 

Do you have a favorite memory from your time here?

From all the amazing days I’ve had at Lighthouse it’s hard to choose just one favorite memory. Some memories that stand out for me are when one of our nonverbal learners said the word “light” while manding for a toy flashlight, all  the fun-Friday dance parties in the playroom, and definitely when one of our learners was having a hard time transitioning out of the building at pick up and my coworker Nate E and I played crazy frog and we did a dance party all the way until we got outside to his mom. 

What advice you would like to share for those interested in a career at Lighthouse Autism Center?

We are all a team with the same passion, helping our learners succeed in different ways. It can get challenging at times, but it is so rewarding at the same time. We are our learners’ second home- they are with us for 8 hours a day, every tiny effort to make this home a loving and safe one, makes a difference in their lives. If you come in every day with love, patience, and acceptance to share, there is no doubt you will shape our learners’ future for the better. 

Ready for a career where you can make a difference?

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