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New Jersey has the second-highest rate of autism in the nation with 1 in 35 children affected. The  rate of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is 1 in 44 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

We are happy to celebrate some of Caldwell University’s outstanding graduates and students from the master’s and doctoral programs in applied behavior analysis. 

These alumni have become leaders in their fields, making a difference in the lives of children, adults, and families affected by autism spectrum disorder in New Jersey and nationally through their work at non-profit organizations, community agencies, schools, health care facilities, and universities.

Antonia Giannakakos-Ferman
“Caldwell  has one of the most outstanding, comprehensive, intensive programs, and that is to the benefit of the students.” – Antonia Giannakakos–Ferman, Ph.D. ’14, M.A., ‘17, Ph.D.

Antonia Giannakakos-Ferman

Antonia Giannakakos-Ferman’s eyes light up when she tells you about the College Teaching course she took while in the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) doctoral program at Caldwell University. Add to that the opportunities she had to adjunct teach and to be a teaching assistant, and her interest in academia grew. “Caldwell has one of the most outstanding, comprehensive, intensive programs, and that is to the benefit of the students.” 

“Not a whole lot of us work with adults. They have really big needs.”
Ashley  Kobylarz,  BCBA

Ashley Kobylarz

Ashley Kobylarz sees the rewards of working with adults with autism spectrum disorders who have “fallen through the cracks” and go on to live independent and fulfilling lives. “We do encounter some of those unfortunate cases where they did not receive the services they needed or were not eligible,” says Kobylarz, who is director of behavioral services at Community Access Unlimited in Elizabeth and an alumna of Caldwell’s master’s in applied behavior analysis (ABA) program. Many of her clients are adults who did not have insurance coverage for behavior analytical services as children or who have aged out of their coverage. 

“I love doing research. It was born out of my experience as a doctoral student at Caldwell.” – Lauren Schnell ‘14, M.A., ‘17, Ph.D.

Lauren Schnell

Lauren Schnell knew she wanted to be an academic. While studying in the master’s and doctoral programs in applied behavior analysis (ABA) at Caldwell University, she was given the opportunity to conduct research and “plan her trajectory” thanks to the support of her advisor, Professor Jason Vladescu, Ph.D., BCBA-D. “Jason pushed me to identify what I wanted to do after graduation and then take the steps to get there. I love doing research. It was born out of my experience as a doctoral student at Caldwell. I knew I needed to publish.”   

“What happened outside the classroom was almost as exciting as what happened inside.” – Ashley  Kemmerer,  M.S. BCBA, LBS

Ashley Kemmerer

Ashley Kemmerer’s husband recently reminded her that when they first met, she told him how she wanted to be a director in an organization serving individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This year she reached that milestone when she was selected for the position of director of training and clinic operations at Graham Behavior Services based in West Long Branch, New Jersey, which provides early intervention and adult services for those with ASD and other developmental disabilities.

“I always felt supported. The program wants to make you the best version of yourself.” – Kelly May, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Kelly May

Kelly May has her dream job, as a behavioral health clinician for the Child Development and Autism Center, part of Morristown Medical Center. The center serves children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental delays and those with special needs who are seeking out a diagnosis. “I help make sure patients are getting what they need,” said May. That means anything from being an advocate for the patients and their parents while collaborating with schools, to navigating therapy, to connecting patients with services and educating parents—

“I learn every day.  It is usually the kids who teach me.” – Danielle Cicalese ‘16 M.A., BCBA

Danielle Cicalese

New Jersey is known for its outstanding services for children with an autism spectrum disorder. Yet some parents still cannot access quality resources. “It is still a fight. It is still a struggle to find help for parents when they really need crisis care,” said Danielle Cicalese, an alumna of Caldwell’s master’s in applied behavior analysis.    

That need is why she leads a team at Crossroads School in Westfield, New Jersey 

“The change we make for students affects the entire family” – Sandra Gomes, BCBA-D, ’10 M.A., ’14 Ph.D.

Sandra Gomes

Sandra Gomes remembers the joy a student’s parents had when their son started eating foods other than bacon. It was a big step. The child, who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), was a learner of Gomes’s at Somerset Hills Learning Institute where she is an assistant director and supervision coordinator.

More about Caldwell’s Applied Behavior Analysis Programs and Center for Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis

Caldwell University’s Post-Master’s, Master of Arts (MA), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) graduate programs provide students with the skills and experience to become leaders in the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA).  Both the MA and Ph.D. ABA programs are accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International. Caldwell University is one of only seven universities in the world to have both programs accredited.

What sets Caldwell’s Applied Behavior Analysis program apart is the Caldwell University Center for Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis. Situated on our campus, the Center provides assessment and intervention services for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. Led by a team of Doctoral-level Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA-Ds), who also instruct our courses, the Center serves as a central component for clinical training that fulfills the supervision and field work required by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board to earn certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Graduate students have the valuable opportunity to take practicum at the Center, learning skills in assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with ASD.