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Doctoral student works as practicum supervisor and adjunct professor

“As an adjunct professor and practicum supervisor, I have made the commitment to train my students to become well-rounded behavior analysts who are not just clinically competent, but more so that {both they} and my interns will be able to fulfill their roles ethically, with strong emphasis on integrity, and, sensitivity and tolerance to diversity in carrying out their personal and professional obligations,” explains Don Togade.

Clearly someone who thrives on challenges and keeping busy, Don not only served as an adjunct professor at TCSPP and worked as a practicum supervisor at TCSPP community partner One Million Degrees (OMD), he did it all while studying for his doctoral degree. Don is a fourth year student in the Applied Behavioral Analysis Program on the Chicago Campus.

One Million Degrees’ mission is to empower low-income, highly motivated community college students to succeed in school, in work, and in life. The organization was founded in 2006 by a group of social entrepreneurs who understood the specific challenges facing community college students, many of whom were failing, and wanted to change the odds, developing a unique and highly successful program based on providing the kind of support that would make a meaningful difference.

When Don’s colleague and professor, Jessica Gamba, Ph.D., BCBA-D, learned that a supervisor position was open at OMD, she suggested Don for the role.

“I had had the pleasure of observing Don’s excellent progress through the Applied Behavior Analysis Master’s program at The Chicago School, and knew that he was planning to remain for the doctoral program,” began Dr. Gamba. “Don had taken an active role in both his own studies and in the mentorship of others in the ABA program. He consistently sought guidance and opportunities to grow professionally, some of the most important qualities in any supervisor.”

Taking on the role was a privilege for Don who in the position provided behavior analytic tiered training experiences for ABA Master’s level interns in designing and employing evidence-based ABA interventions to help OMD scholars attain optimal academic performance and adaptive self-management skills. During his tenure as supervisor, Don and the interns under his supervision provided services for over 70 OMD scholars and accomplished quite a bit. Among other outputs, the team has implemented 161 behavioral/performance consultations, 31 behavioral assessments, 45 skill acquisition plans and 20 behavioral reduction plans.

“In addition, I designed and conducted training for OMD staff to further improve their coaching techniques to facilitate a more collaborative and productive relationship between program coordinators with their respective scholar.”

According to Don, equipping program coordinators with various behavior analytic tools to use during sessions with scholars will likely enable them to improve the support and guidance for scholars so that they will reach their goals. “Most importantly,” he expounds, “the scholars are taught to become more independent and accountable for themselves and for their academic performance.”

Born and raised in a rural farming town in the Philippines, Don is now a naturalized Canadian citizen and obtained his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from San Sebastian College-Recoletos from the Philippines. He also completed an advanced diploma in Intensive Behavioral Science Technology from George Brown College in Toronto. He served as an instructor/ behavior therapist in Toronto before moving to Chicago in 2012 to attend The Chicago School. “I have always been very interested in exploring various methods in effectively transmitting knowledge and skills among those whom I served.”

Dr. Gamba describes Don as personable, professional and a great communicator and says that as both a student and colleague he’s “always eager for collaboration and deeper involvement in the field of behavior analysis. His skills make him a natural at dissemination of our research and practice. He has been an attentive and active participant in every class in which he’s been my student, and he has consistently put the knowledge gained from his coursework into practice.”

Humble, yet aware that he can make a difference in the lives of students and others, Don credits his interns and the OMD scholars with giving him the motivation he needed for carrying out his role so successfully at OMD. Citing both groups’ commitment to continue to learn, grow and make meaningful life-changes as his inspiration, he states, “In behavior analytic terms, my ABA interns, OMD scholars and the staff were my ‘reinforcers’.”

Regarding OMD, Don believes working there has benefitted him greatly both personally and professionally. He feels that he is more aware of the social realities faced by OMD scholars, who often come from low-income backgrounds. “That awareness has further motivated me to be more socially involved in creating behavior analytic programs that will promote social inclusion and equal opportunities for those who are marginalized or disenfranchised.”

His work at the organization, he says, has helped him to shape his interpersonal skills, expand his communicative repertoires, fine-tune his skills in conflict resolution in an objective and respectful manner and, most importantly as he sees it, helped him further refine his leadership and behavior analytic skills to better  enhance organizational operations.

In his work as a TCSPP adjunct professor, Don has taught several courses in the ABA Department, including Observation and Measurement, Clinical Interviewing, and Diversity in Clinical Practice. In April 2015 he was inducted into the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, which recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement, while promoting diversity and excellence in doctoral education and the professoriate. Inducted as a Doctoral Honorary Student Member and a Scholar Scientist, Don was among nine other TCSPP students, faculty and staff to be inducted this year.

“I feel very happy and humbled at the same time,” he says excitedly. “I will be initiating some projects from now on and then presenting my work during the Bouchet Conference in Yale — perhaps next year or in two years.”

“He could easily represent The Chicago School and the field of behavior analysis internationally,” Dr. Gamba states. “No matter his ultimate path, I know that Don will continue to pass on his knowledge and experiences to anyone with the desire to learn, and will never cease the pursuit of his own professional development.”