Amanda Perera, a first-year graduate student in the doctoral program in school psychology, is a 2018 recipient of the Illinois State University Foundation Fellowship.

Perera completed her B.S. in psychology from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County in 2016. During her undergraduate career, she was involved in pediatric research and completed an internship at the Sheppard Pratt Inpatient Psychiatric Center.

After completing her undergraduate degree, she moved to Minnesota, where she completed an M.A. in clinical psychology at Minnesota State University, Mankato. As a graduate student, Perera also completed a practicum at the Lovaas Institute in Minneapolis. There, she worked with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder on increasing their school readiness and verbal and social abilities.

“I absolutely loved (having) the ability to help these children communicate effectively with others around them,” Perera said. “I initially became interested in psychology during my senior year of high school, when I took an AP psychology course. I had always been interested in working with children, but it wasn’t until I took this psychology course that I discovered I wanted to work with children who had intellectual disabilities and behavioral problems.”

While completing her master’s degree, Perera worked as a mental health practitioner at Adult, Child, Family Services LLC, where she worked with children to help them learn effective social skills and coping mechanisms. During this experience, she was introduced to the realm of school psychology as she worked together with client’s schools to provide students with the most effective interventions, both in the school and at home.

“I loved working with children and helping them reach their full potential,” Perera said.

Upon completion of her doctoral degree in school psychology, Perera hopes to continue working with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities, and behavioral problems to effectively implement early interventions, improve school readiness, and promote a more holistic approach to interventions by extending interventions implemented at schools to the home.

The Illinois State University Foundation Fellowship is awarded to three doctoral and three master’s level students each year. To be considered for this award, applicants must demonstrate a potential for academic success at the graduate level, having attained a cumulative grade point average of 3.6 on a 4.0 scale, among other qualifications.