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Learning Center Experience
Hartwell lives many lives of service well beyond her 23 years. She is a
divorced single mother to a 4-year-old boy, serves as a Marine in the Reserves,
and now enjoys a thriving career as a behavioral therapist for children with
“I grew up in love with my country,” Rachel
said. “I always knew that in one way or another I wanted to give back.” For 6
years, Rachel has been a field radio operator in
the Marine Corps. She is currently in the Reserves and serves on weekends and
several weeks throughout the year.
While Rachel loves
being a Marine, she also wanted to start a civilian career. She initially went
back to school while she was an active Marine, with the goal of finishing her
degree to work with post traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) servicemembers. Rachel thought that a psychology degree
would be a good fit. However, she found herself more and more interested in her
behavioral analysis classes, and gravitated toward working with children with
disabilities to fulfill her need of helping others.
“Kaplan University has a great focus on applied behavior analysis
(ABA) in the Bachelor of Science in Psychology program, and I feel there seems to be a need for behavioral
therapists,” Rachel said. She found this out first hand. Rachel didn’t even
need to conduct a job search to find a position in her field. One of the top
local ABA agencies found her resume posted online and contacted her. The agency
supervisor told her that they have difficulty finding people with an ABA focus
in their studies. Rachel was hired in a training position 3 months before her
she earned her degree she was promoted to her current position as an ABA tutor
therapist, working with special needs children in their homes. She also went
from Active Duty to the Marine Reserves.
“I love, love, love
my job!” Rachel said. “The children I work with are so special. It is wonderful
to see them grow and evolve under my care. Even the simplest tasks can seem so
daunting to some of these kids. When they accomplish something, even just tying
their shoes, their confidence soars and they can take on new tasks. It is very fulfilling
Rachel feels that
Kaplan University prepared her well for her position. “As I entered the field,
I was experiencing what I was learning in school come to life at my job. It
helped me understand the theories much better. It all made a lot more sense.”
A very busy and
self-confessed “Type A” personality, Rachel knew that a traditional college environment
wouldn’t fit in her schedule. “Clearly I have a lot going on in my life. I want
to squeeze every minute I have out of my day, and I didn’t want to waste
precious time commuting to class when I could be spending time with my son—or
studying.” Rachel was very happy with her decision to attend Kaplan University.
She especially enjoyed learning from her professors and liked how they brought
their lessons to life by using real-world stories. “Reading a textbook about
behavioral issues just doesn’t cut it,” Rachel said. “There are so many
different scenarios, you really have to talk about your experiences to convey
the material well to people not familiar with the field. My professors did a
great job of breaking down the scientific definitions and creating their own
As she started her
education journey at Kaplan University, Rachel was concerned that the online experience wouldn’t allow for
the personal interaction that she really enjoys. “I was so wrong! In each of my
classes, there were certain people that I started to recognize and learn from,
and I looked forward to reading their posts. I became friends with a few of
them, and I was so excited to finally meet them at graduation. We still keep in
So whether she’s “roughing
it” in rigorous training on weekends in the Reserves, working with special
needs children helping improve their lives, or spending time with her son,
Rachel feels like she is leading a fulfilled life. “I just turned 23 and I have a fantastic career in a growing
Rachel plans on returning to Kaplan University to earn her master’s degree in psychology with an applied behavioral analysis specialization and
would like to eventually become a certified ABA therapist at her current agency.
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