Alumnus Landon Cowan graduated in 2013 and went to the University of North Texas. While in high school Cowan participated in NHS and band.
What have you done after high school?
“I graduated from Legacy in 2013,” Cowan said. “I then attended the University of North Texas (UNT) where I majored in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Spanish. During my time at UNT, I worked as a therapist for several children with autism as well as a research assistant to a faculty member in the Behavior Analysis Program. This August, I began my Master’s degree in Behavior Analysis at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.”
What made you want to do what you are doing now?
“To be perfectly honest, me finding ABA was just really good luck,” Cowan said. “I began as a psychology major wanting to somehow work with children but not really knowing how to reach that goal. At the end of my first semester of college, one of my mentors suggested that I go check out the ABA department. Behavior analysis is the science of human behavior. We look at behavior as having clear, observable causes that can be improved or changed to increase a person’s quality of life. This field works with practically any population you can think of. We work with individuals with disabilities, service animals, schools, sports, factory workers just to name a few. I walked away from my first conversation with the ABA department in love with the field. This science is making incredible changes to so many people’s lives. I got to combine my love of science with the ability to work with people in need. I now get to work with children with autism and their families to help them learn new skills to better help them live and interact with their communities. These skills range from communication, social skills, play skills, self-care skills, and so many more.”
What did you learn or experience in high school affect you in college and beyond?
“Through my experiences in AP classes and band, I learned a lot on how to organize, lead, and manage responsibilities,” Cowan said. “High school can get pretty busy pretty quickly, and trust me, that doesn’t go away when you graduate. Learning how to juggle multiple responsibilities and to be successful in those commitments is probably the most valuable thing you can take away from high school. I don’t play music anymore, but I still use so many skills necessary learned from band in my everyday work and life.”
Explain your job now.
“I am now a graduate student in the Behavior Analysis Program at the University of Houston-Clear Lake,” Cowan said. “As part of my program, I work as a behavior analysis intern for a Houston-area school that specializes in service school-aged children with autism who have severe challenging behaviors, such as aggression or self-injurious behavior. I work with teachers to assess a student’s challenging behavior and skill deficits to create a treatment plan to address them. I also am working on several research projects in our department. I am conducting research on the development of staff training materials as well as fitness evaluations for children with autism. My work is never boring and is super fulfilling.”
What are your plans for the future?
“I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in Behavior Analysis so that I can become a professor at a university or a director of an autism intervention center or both,” Cowan said. “I want to teach the next generation of behavior analysis students and conduct research to better improve services for children with autism. I also want to be an advocate in Texas for the expansion of autism treatment services for low income families.”
What is your advice to current high schoolers?
“You are just a few years away from stepping in to the real world (or college) and seeing that the world is much different from what you may see it as now,” Cowan said “This is a wonderful and beautiful thing! You will be learning some much from so many people. One of the most important things you can practice now is how to accept and seek out feedback. What I mean is that you should learn to see constructive feedback as a good thing and something that is only going to make you better in the future. An even better skill is to ask for feedback. Find people who you trust who can give you good input on how you are doing in accomplishing your goals. Regardless of your plans post-high school, I hope you will find something that you are passionate about that makes this world a better place than you found it. The best is yet to come, Broncos.”