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Cal State LA partners with Easterseals Southern California to train future behavior analysts

April 19, 2017

When psychology major Wendy Cordova graduates this spring, she’ll be on the fast track to become a certified behavior analyst.

Through a collaboration between Cal State LA’s Department of Psychology and Easterseals Southern California, students like Cordova receive the field training needed to sit for the Board Certified assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) exam.

“I am glad to be able to participate in this Cal State LA-Easterseals program, which is helping to jumpstart my career working with children who have developmental conditions,” said Cordova.

Students in the program take five undergraduate psychology courses, including courses on learning and behavior, applied behavior analysis, experimental design, and autism, as well as a field experience class in conjunction with Easterseals during their last semester at Cal State LA. Easterseals trains students to provide applied behavior analysis services to children diagnosed with autism and related disorders.

“This partnership epitomizes Cal State LA’s goal of service to the community, while at the same time educating our students and preparing them to succeed both academically and professionally,” said Cal State LA Psychology Professor Henry Schlinger. “This is an example of an initiative that engages local and regional communities in a mutually beneficial partnership.”

For nearly 100 years, Easterseals has been a valuable resource for people and families facing disabilities. Easterseals provides education, outreach and advocacy that enriches the lives of people living with autism or other disabilities.

Since fall 2015, about 20 Cal State LA students have benefitted from the collaboration with Easterseals and have been hired as behavior interventionists at the non-profit. 

Behavior interventionists monitor the development of children in the home and in schools, and provide specialized behavior intervention services to children, as well as parent education.

The Cal State LA course sequence satisfies the Behavior Analysis Certification Board requirements for students to sit for the BCaBA exam.

Nadia Syed, a member of the first cohort, currently works full-time as a behavior interventionist at Easterseals.

"I absolutely love my work with Easterseals Southern California," said Syed. "Going into work never feels as though it is work. I am able to play with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in a very natural and meaningful way. Using the natural environment, we help children improve social skills, improve their ability to learn in school, and reduce inappropriate behaviors." 

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Cal State LA is ranked number one in the nation based on the upward mobility of its students. Founded in 1947, Cal State LA is the premier public comprehensive university in the heart of Los Angeles and is dedicated to the mission of engagement, service, and the public good. The University serves more than 27,000 students and more than 247,000 distinguished alumni, who are as diverse as the region we serve. Led by an award-winning faculty, the University offers nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and the humanities.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit