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Working to Change Lives

A passion for improving lives takes students to work at Caravel Autism Health, where their work to help kids and families falls right in line with the Green Bay center’s mission.

Jessica Pomplun ’20 is one of several SNC students on staff. While she’s studying math with plans for graduate school and government agency work, it’s clear her time with Caravel has been extraordinarily beneficial.

“Since my first year at SNC, I’ve been babysitting a little boy with autism who was in therapy at Caravel,” she says. “His mom mentioned that the center was hiring. I was nervous because I had never really worked with children, let alone children with autism, but it’s honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Pomplun collaborates with other behavior specialists to create individualized plans for each client. The specialists are able to update families daily on achievements, some of them life-changing: a client saying their first words, perhaps, or riding a bike for the first time.

Jessica DeMeuse ’15 (above, left), a senior therapist at the center since 2016, says it’s the day-to-day work and positive environment that makes the difference for each and every child who comes to Caravel. She hopes to have a small impact on a client’s life each time she works with them. In reality, though, she says, they are the ones impacting her life and teaching her so much.

Children who receive treatment earlier tend to make the greatest breakthroughs later on. A focus on the one-on-one partnership is a significant part of the process, too.

“When I first started, I didn’t know what to expect, but I discovered my true passion,” says Danica Wendler ’20 (center). “Working with these kiddos is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Even though some days are tough, seeing the smile of a client you helped makes it all worth it.”

Valerie Rivas ’21 (right) says seeing her clients succeed and sharing those personal triumphs with their loved ones is what she appreciates most: “I think my favorite moments are working with several different kids and seeing them try their hardest and succeed in their work while they are there.”

Pomplun says that while the children, and their families, experience an incredible amount of change at Caravel, her time at the center has pushed her to grow both personally and professionally. “I’ve learned how to approach negative behavior in a constructive way, [how to] be flexible – and probably a million new nursery rhymes with motions,” she says. “But most importantly I learned about patience.”

March 17, 2020