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First ABA Grads Become Certified Behavior Analysts

Katherine Stohlman Pieters, C'19

Applied behavior analysis graduates 2023

Pictured from left to right are MSABA graduates Lynn Schumacher, Michelle Buhrman, Anna Svetlikova and Kaitlyn Sweeney.

Over the past several months, four of the first graduates of Mount St. Mary’s graduate-level applied behavior analysis (ABA) program took and passed their Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exams. Lynn Schumacher, Julie Crochet, Anna Svetlikova and Katelyn Hoffman have passed the exam, after completing their MSABA courses and 2,000 hours of supervised field work. Board certification enables these students to begin effecting change as official behavior analysts.

schumacher-poster-with-prof-in-text.jpgThese four alumni are part of a group of 20 Mount graduates who formed the first ABA class at the Mount. The cohort, which consisted of 12 students earning their master’s degree and eight who received a post-master’s ABA certificate, began classes in 2021 and graduated in 2023.

Crochet, Svetlikova, and Hoffman are working as behavior analysts for local clinics that specialize in autism in children and teenagers. Schumacher is currently applying to doctoral ABA programs, while also working in a clinic for children with autism.

“The ABA program prepared me for both the BCBA exam and my future career through the quality education provided by the esteemed faculty, and the rigorous research experiences. There were many research, professional and clinical opportunities as well as thoughtful and intensive supervision experiences that have prepared me for the clinical field,” shared Schumacher, C'21.

The BCBA exam, which is offered periodically throughout the year, is notoriously difficult, with only between 56 and 66% of takers passing on their first try. However, thus far Mount students have a 100% pass rate.  In the coming months, the classmates of these four students will also sit for the exam as they complete their practicum hours.

“Besides our high-caliber students…the Mount’s program is unique because we help our students to earn their 2,000 practicum hours as they begin the ABA program, instead of leaving them to make the hours themselves after they earn the degree. It makes it much easier for them to take the BCBA promptly and apply what they’re learning in class,” explained Kwadwo Britwum, BCBA, Ph.D., assistant director of the ABA program.

pediatric-behavioral-health-center-in-text.jpgSuccessful, well-rounded BCBAs, like those graduating from the Mount, cannot come to the job market quickly enough. Nationwide demand for behavior analysts has skyrocketed, increasing exponentially over the past six years. The School of Health Professions building, which will open in the fall of 2024, will include a pediatric behavioral health center that will provide a therapeutic environment for children dealing with behavioral issues as well as training for parents, teachers and other professionals.

At the heart of the Mount’s ABA program, which is part of the School of Health Professions, is the desire to form graduates who are equipped to respond gracefully to the needs of their communities. “We teach them to care for themselves, and avoid burnout, to help them then go out and care for the people they work with,” said Britwum. “These graduates really are wonderful.”

Katherine Stohlman Pieters, C'19