Dr. Terese Aceves found her professional calling when, as an undergraduate psychology major at UC Berkeley, she participated in an intern program involving pediatric inpatients at a local psychiatric facility. “These kids were not allowed to have access to books, games, artwork, or toys, even when interns worked in the unit,” Aceves says. “They lived in a mostly sterile and cold environment. Seeing that motivated me to explore how kids with special needs are treated, and what professionals can do to provide them with appropriate supports and educational experiences.
After obtaining her master’s degree and general education, special education and resource specialist credentials at Loyola Marymount University, Aceves took a position as a bilingual resource specialist, located in a predominantly low-income community of Los Angeles. Through her experience in the classroom, she became interested in learning more about how to provide additional support for children with disabilities, particularly in the area of reading. She decided to pursue research in that area at UC Santa Barbara, where she completed her doctoral studies.