Jesse Perrin '17 (M) grew up volunteering with many organizations, and he always seemed to gravitate towards the children who were disadvantaged in some way, helping to mentor and teach them despite their challenges.
After graduating from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with a psychology degree in 2013, he decided to pursue a career working alongside disadvantaged children – particularly those with autism and disabilities – through behavioral analysis.
"I think life is difficult enough as it is, and if you really are at a disadvantage, it's … an obligation to help people who have less advantages than you," Perrin said. "And behavior analysis provides the best tools to do that in my field."
While Perrin began his master's degree in behavior analysis elsewhere, he kept hearing about Salve Regina's program. He eventually made the leap to transfer and complete his degree at the University, graduating in 2017.
Perrin said was able to truly study, learn and grow into the ever-expanding field of behavior analysis at Salve Regina through the faculty he encountered. "The connections that I made while going to Salve … are connections within the field of behavior analysis that not only taught me a great deal in terms of coursework, but it's a nice complement as well when you can work with them once you become a behavior analyst," he said.
He has worked at the J. Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center since 2013 through its Pathways Strategic Teaching Center, a program that helps children with autism and disabilities through comprehensive education and treatment. Perrin worked with children ranging from 8-14 years of age for about two years before gradually transitioning into a more research-driven role.
"It was the most rewarding, best experience I've ever had in my life," he said of his time teaching students. "You're teaching them academic and functional skills, but they are teaching you about … what it's like to really be challenged and overcome and try day after day the way that they do. I couldn't teach them as much as they taught me."
Perrin has been working on various studies involving autism, disabilities and behavior analysis. Most of his research is passed down to teachers and staff members at Pathways, and his master's degree has helped him tap into this passion for research at a higher level than ever before. He also teaches an elective course at Salve Regina, which he describes as a dream come true.
He said that now is the perfect time to enter the field of behavior analysis and study at Salve Regina, as the program is growing exponentially. "Everything I'd heard about the program and the direction it's going now, if you're thinking about it you should probably just do it," he said. "The opportunities the program should create within the next few years will really put it on the map – not only in Rhode Island, but most likely in all of New England."