Eileen Rivero has worked as a registered behavior technician in behavior therapy with children who have mental and physical disabilities at Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) Corporation for the past three years. PBS’s mission is not only to improve behavior, but also the quality of life for the individuals they serve and their families. Rivero’s mission is to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves within the realm of mental health. We sat down with her to learn more about her “why” for pursuing her Master of Public Health degree with Chamberlain.
What was your background before working for PBS?
I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a psychology degree last year, but had worked in a number of healthcare-related roles before that. I am a certified EMT [Emergency Medical Technician] and first responder, a certified medical administrative assistant, and I’ve served as a financial counselor for Orlando Health. I am currently a nationally certified registered behavior technician.
What does your job at PBS look like on a daily basis?
I conduct in-home therapy at clients’ houses; so each day varies by client and no day looks the same. Everyone has special behaviors that have to be cared for. At PBS, we address living and functional skills, and help individuals to be successful now and in the future. I care for clients from as young as 18 months to 26 years old. I love what I do.
You mention you love the work you’re doing now; why did you decide to pursue an MPH degree?
I’ve become a huge advocate of teaching people what it is to acknowledge those with behavioral disabilities. For example, the larger population doesn’t know what it takes to care for a person with autism. You can’t physically see that at individual with autism has an illness and it’s easy to make an assumption about their condition. Because of that, educating the population on mental health as well as an overall focus on mental health is how I’m tailoring my degree.
What do you like about the MPH degree program so far?
I’m in the accelerated program, so I will actually be finishing soon – in September! I have taken online courses before – but this is different, in a good way. It’s a graduate-level program with graduate-level courses. I have enjoyed the Public Health Communication and Behavioral Health Theories course especially.
I also appreciate that I have the same professors for different courses and they’ll note that I’m working mental health in as my focus; they have been supportive in that and really want me to succeed, specifically Janice Unruh Davidson, PhD, DNP, RN-BC, FNP-BC, NEA-BC, CNE, ANEF, FAANP, FNAP. They’ve also pushed me to be a better writer and a better student – without them, I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am.
What is your career plan, long-term?
I’m really glad I chose to complete this degree in public health in particular because I think it’s a great way to learn how to advocate for populations you care about. Long-term, I want to be a medical doctor and am looking to get into medical school next. Specifically, I want to go into pediatrics and orthopedics, and become a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. It would be a dream to work with Doctors Without Borders; this degree is training me to be able to work with communities and populations throughout the world.
What would you say you attribute your success in the program so far?
Time management! I am working full time as well as completing the MPH program full time. Also, support from my family; both my parents are immigrants – my mother is Columbian, father is Dominican – and I’m the first person in my family to graduate college and reach the graduate level.
By Kari Lawrence
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