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Sunday, January 29, 2023

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Leah Lawrence Leah Lawrence

#SDSUGrad: Leah Lawrence

Following graduation, Leah Lawrence will move into a full-time position with a company located in San Diego’s Kensington neighborhood that specializes in behavioral health.
By Michael Klitzing

Over the past year, the San Diego State University community has shown its true resilience. Graduates from the Class of 2021 are no exception. During this unprecedented time in human history, the university has prioritized providing students with important services like virtual academic supportemergency financial assistance and other support services. In particular, SDSU Career Services continues to offer resources for students, including the online career platform Handshake and expanded virtual programming and advising.

In this series, we highlight graduates as they prepare to embark on the next chapter of their lives, including those who have secured jobs and internships or are moving into advanced studies. 

Name: Leah Lawrence
Major: Child Development
Hometown: Whittier, Calif.

Where will you be working after graduation, and what will your responsibilities be?

I will be working at a small company called ABAcus Behavioral Health as a behavioral therapist. I am working part time right now, but will amp up my hours and responsibilities once I officially have my degree. I am working with children wih autism, helping them develop social skills and enhance other areas of their development. I go to their homes and work directly with them and their families to ensure a positive relationship and enrich their development.

What led you to pursue child development as an area of study?

I’ve worked with children since high school as a dance teacher. When I realized it was something I was good at and enjoyed, I found the SDSU CFD program and instantly fell in love with the program itself and all the opportunities. I’ve worked as a preschool teacher at the SDSU Children’s Center for the past two years and I’m sad to be leaving. I loved my students and coworkers and all the wonderful experience I gained there. Although my career goals are changing constantly, the one thing that always stays constant is that I want to help children and families who need it.

When did you begin your job search and what did that process entail?

This job actually kind of fell in my lap out of nowhere. I had been pondering what I wanted to do next and was feeling very indecisive and overwhelmed until my professor sent out a job announcement for this company. I went ahead and sent my resume even though I wasn't even near graduation. I had interviews with them and it ended up working out.

When did you receive your official job offer and what was your reaction?

I received my job offer in February and was so excited! This is such a great opportunity to start my career and gain more experience in a different field, so I was so excited to start a new journey. I was initially a little worried because it’s unlike the jobs I’ve had before working with children, but I have been adapting well.

What advice do you have for fellow students, regardless of their field, looking to jumpstart their career post-graduation?

I would recommend using all the opportunities your professors give you. There are so many cool jobs out there that they have connections to and can help you discover. Something that was also really important for me was trying different things and exploring different areas of the field. I completed many internships in different facilities to see which specific area was best suited for me.

How did SDSU prepare you for success, not only at the university but after graduation?

I had a class (CFD 598) that was dedicated to putting together our senior portfolio. Our professors helped us with our resumes and other documents that summarized our experience and expertise we gained at SDSU. This class also connected us to job opportunities, which is how I got my job. The faculty in the CFD program are so amazing and supportive and did a good job of preparing us for different opportunities and programs we could be a part of.

What experience at SDSU has changed your life the most?

Working at the SDSU Children’s Center changed my life. I entered college thinking I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. I loved my job at the Children’s Center and it helped me realize that there were so many other opportunities for me to look into. It was a great experience and my supervising teacher, Mr. David (Pena), changed my outlook on caregiving as a whole and how to use compassion while working with children.