UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For applied behavior analysis technician Abby Keizer, every morning is a chance to make a difference in the life of a child.

Keizer, a Penn State World Campus graduate, works with children with autism at the Kaufman Children’s Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan. As an ABA technician, Keizer teaches the kids important life skills, such as communicating wants and needs.

Currently, Keizer’s work is primarily with one or two children, but she’s ready to take on a bigger caseload once she passes the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam. Before she could do that, she needed to get a master’s degree.

“That’s my dream,” said Keizer, 26. “I love implementing in the field with the kiddos, but the progression and the next step is really where I want to be.”

For Keizer, Penn State World Campus offered the flexibility to earn her Master of Education in Special Education with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis while she worked full-time. Connecting her practical experience with lessons learned in the classroom made Keizer a better ABA technician.

“I would have things happen at work, and it’s this thing we learned about yesterday. That circular relationship was very helpful,” she said.

Keizer was able to complete her degree in one and a half years by taking two courses at a time. She said she engaged in her studies by video chatting with her professors and using the program to meet experts in the field. The program culminated with her attending the National Autism Conference at Penn State in August.

“We had been reading about all of these big names in our textbooks, and it was so cool to then be sitting with them, hearing from them, and asking them questions. It was mind-blowing,” she said.

The trip also provided Keizer a chance to connect with her family history. Both her grandparents also attended Penn State, but it was the world-renowned Penn State ABA program that finally pushed her to attend World Campus.

“Penn State just felt like the missing puzzle piece,” she said.

Learn more about the applied behavior analysis emphasis on the Master of Education in Special Education website.