Korryna Boulette '15, Psychology

Published on Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Korrynna smWhen Korryna Boulette’s interest in psychology was first sparked, she never guessed she’d one day be an accepted graduate student at Columbia University’s Teachers College—or that Becker’s Education and Psychology Program would play such a big role in getting her there.

Boulette first encountered autism when her friend’s younger brother was diagnosed later in life. She began to read about autism, and her interest in psychology grew. Boulette became particularly interested in applied behavior analysis, or ABA, which is the process of applying interventions to help autistic people improve socially significant behaviors.

A class in high school was Boulette’s official introduction to the study of psychology and sociology, and as a requirement she volunteered with pre-teens and teens with social communication challenges at InSync Communication Center in Sterling, Mass. There, she interacted with kids in the program during playtime and through structured social activities. One girl in particular began to open up to Boulette, which became a valuable experience for them both.

“Her mom came up to me and said her daughter didn’t usually talk to anyone,” she said. “To realize I had made a difference for this girl—I thought it was the most awesome thing in the world.”

Boulette was hooked and knew work with autistic kids was what she wanted to do. She started her college career at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, but felt something was missing. After finding Becker, Boulette transferred and found she loved the smaller, more intimate classes and department, and appreciated the opportunities to work in small groups and get to know her fellow students.

“I liked all the professors and other students,” she said. “Everyone was incredibly helpful.”

Thanks to one of her professors, Dr. Kerri Augusto, Boulette uncovered her love for psychology as a whole. “She helped me look outside of my little bubble of ABA and had me look toward school psychology,” Boulette said.

During her junior year and the following summer, Boulette completed three terms interning at The Darnell School in Hudson, Mass., fulfilling a requirement to sit for the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst Examination after graduation. During her internship, she first worked with data for the students related to ABA, and later worked one-on-one with kids with moderate to severe disabilities while also taking data at the same time. She felt challenged, but more convinced she wanted to work with people on the autism spectrum.

“I learned a lot more there than I would have in classes,” Boulette said. “Darnell allowed the material to be applied to a real-life situation. Like using positive reinforcement to increase a desired behavior when the student completes a task properly.”

After graduation, Boulette plans to continue her quest for learning: she was accepted to Teachers College at Columbia within 48 hours of interviewing. Boulette said she looks forward to applying the strong work ethic and time management skills she honed at Becker, as well as building on her Becker education going forward.

“I want to learn more,” Boulette said. “I want to look more at the whole child, instead of just their behavior. My hope is to become a school psychologist,” she said.