2021 grad uses applied behavioral science degree to serve children with autism

Rising Up at KUEC: In this Q&A series, outstanding 2021 KU graduates share how the KU Edwards Campus has helped them start, advance or change their career. Meet Morgan Benson.

Morgan Benson and her fiance hike near their home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

As a registered behavior technician, 23-year-old Morgan Benson spends her days working with kids with autism and other related diagnoses. With her master’s in applied behavioral science from KU, she plans to become a board-certified behavior analyst and continue to make a difference in the lives of children and their families.

When the pandemic disrupted the face-to-face clinical study Benson developed for her thesis project, she refused to be thrown off course and quickly developed a new thesis project, titled “An evaluation of a functional analysis decision-making model.”

“I have been impressed with her tenacity and work ethic,” said Liz Barton, academic success coach for the applied behavioral science program.

After a positive experience earning her bachelor’s degree at KU, Benson was inspired to return to KU for her master’s. The fully online master’s program in applied behavioral science allowed Benson to attend KU from Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she and her fiancé, Kyle, recently relocated.

Learn more about Benson’s insights and plans for the future.

Q: What is a typical day in your life like?

A: I work Monday through Thursday providing behavior-analytic services to the clients at my clinic. Two nights per week, I attend class and research lab with other students in my cohort. I spend my weekends doing homework, working on my thesis research project, watching the latest great true crime documentary and hiking in the nearby mountains when the weather is nice!

Q: What makes you the happiest?

A: I really enjoy spending time with my fiancé and both of our families! Because we recently moved away from home, I look forward having them visit or getting to go home to visit. I also enjoy hiking, traveling and continuously learning new things about my field!

Q: What motivates you?

A: At work, I am motivated by seeing the kids I work with learn new skills. I am also motivated by learning new things each day. Behavioral science encompasses such a wide variety of populations and applications so there is always something new to learn!

Q: Why did you choose KU and the Edwards Campus?

A: I chose KUEC because I got my undergraduate degree from KU’s Department of Applied Behavioral Science. I loved the dedication of the faculty, staff and students for helping us learn about the field. I knew that this online program was modeling the Lawrence program, which is one of the top programs in the country.

Q: How did KUEC meet your personal and/or academic needs?

A: KUEC met my needs because the class schedule allowed me to work and get clinical experience in the field while still attending class. The curriculum of KUEC’s program also requires students to complete a research project, which I was really interested in doing to get that experience of conducting my own research!

Q: How has your KU degree prepared you for the future?

A: Earning my degree will allow me to further serve the kids I work with by not only implementing skill acquisition programs, but by taking part in assessing their behaviors and skills and writing programs as well as assisting their caregivers by providing trainings.

Q: What was the most difficult part of earning your college degree and how did you overcome it?

A: The most difficult part of earning my graduate degree is working full time while being a full-time student. Both work and school require a lot of my time and finding a balance that works has been difficult. However, I have figured out how to create a schedule that works for me and allows me to still spend time with friends and family while working and attending school.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?

A: My proudest accomplishment is easily running a marathon! After my first year of undergrad, I ran a marathon in the middle of a humid, hot Iowa summer. It was extremely hard work, but I got to run with my mom which made it that much better.

Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at KUEC?

A: My favorite memory of my time at KUEC is the great friends I have made in online classes! I am shocked at how close I have gotten with other students in my cohort, and how we have truly become friends through this process.

Q: What are your long-term career goals and how do you plan to achieve them?

A: After finishing my degree, I plan to take the board exam for my field and becoming a board-certified behavior analyst. With this, I can continue to serve clients and help them learn new skills!

Q: What advice would you give others who are thinking of earning a degree, whether a first-time bachelor’s, a second bachelor’s or a master’s?

A: Definitely get the degree! While it can be stressful and hard work at times, earning the degree is so fulfilling and so worth it!

Learn more about the online Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science program.

Learn more about the Behavioral Science program

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