Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Jada Tucker.
Hi Jada, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Currently, I work as a Doctoral-level Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) serving children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other co-occurring disorders. I help my clients decrease problem behaviors and increase socially significant ones based on what is most important to them. My journey to get here was no easy feat but well worth all of the years of experience and schooling. I started working in the field in 2009 assisting in research on the Neurobehavioral Unit at Kennedy Krieger Institute in 2009 while pursuing my undergraduate degree. Once I graduated in 2011 with my bachelor’s degree, I decided to explore other fields of psychology – just to get experience in different work settings. After working two years in mental health counseling, I decided to transition back to the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Working in another field confirmed that ABA was truly where my heart lies. I began my graduate studies in 2014 and graduated in 2015 with my master’s in special education with a focus in ABA. In 2016, I began my career as a licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Wanting to continue my thirst for the science and research within the field, I began pursuing a PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis. The program was most rewarding, as I was given the opportunity to study abroad to South Africa. While there, I focused on using ABA principles to promote justice reform and eradicate racism present within social structures across the country. I also published 2 ABA research articles while pursuing my PhD. I recently graduated in 2020 with my PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I wouldn’t say anyone’s road to success is “smooth”, per se. Of course there are struggles that I experienced such as working late nights, fatigue, burnout, overworking myself at times, etc. If I can speak with total candor, as a black woman in this predominately white field, I have unfortunately had to experience systemic racism, gaslighting, and microaggressions in certain workspaces in the past. I would say that that was the biggest struggle for me which oftentimes lead to me feel judged and defeated. After experiencing this, I decided to take action by leaving monolithic work environments and choosing to only gain experience from those in the field who value cultural competence. This not only leads to more effective practices and training in the workplace, but it has made me a better provider for my diverse population of clients.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Given my personal experiences in the field, I wanted other black women in my field to be highlighted, celebrated and praised. Shortly after obtaining my PhD in May of 2020, I co-founded a networking and support group called Black Girls in ABA on Instagram (@blackgirlsinaba). What started out as just an Instagram page showcasing black women in the field vastly turned into a popular page within the field. We grew so quickly that we decided to launch a website in February of 2021 called Black in ABA (blackinaba.com). The purpose of Black in ABA is to highlight, network with, and support all black professionals in ABA. This website is a free source to collaborate with black professionals within the field of ABA- It features a free ABA directory, which allows for anyone to search for black ABA providers across the world.
What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
I absolutely love the diversity of our city. I enjoy working with clients who come from a variety of different backgrounds. I definitely learn so much (about others, as well as myself) just from working with so many different people which I can honestly appreciate. My work is truly a rewarding experience.
I try to find the good in everything. But I would have to say that the one thing that I dislike is how challenging it is for some families to receive quality services for their children. Services can be extremely expensive, and those families with great insurance tend to benefit the most from them. Those with not-so-great insurance, or even no insurance, tend to either not receive any services or have to go through a very convoluted system which could lead to significant delays in receiving services. I hope for a more turnkey system so children could access these services in a timely and affordable manner in the future.
- Website: www.blackinaba.com
- Instagram: @blackgirlsinaba
B Classic Photography LLC (only for the 2 professional shots)