In-Focus features a staff member each month as a way to learn more about our amazing staff. This month, we highlight Long Beach Social Skills Coordinator Katherine Rivas. We asked Katherine a few questions about her role, her CIP experience, and what she does when she’s not at the Center.
What’s your most memorable CIP experience?
My most memorable CIP experience has been leading the Spring Engagement Trip to the Downtown LA Vicinity. Students had the opportunity to enjoy dinner and socialize with their peers. Right after dinner, we all gathered around and engaged in conversation starter games while we waited to be let into the Microsoft Theatre. The last part of the experience was Cirque du Soleil which was just uhhmazing! It was fun to hear the “ahh’s and the oh's'' coming from students. Also, it was my very first time on an engagement trip as an employee at CIP and I got to connect with students and with my colleagues on a deeper level. So much fun, can’t wait to see what this next year will bring!
What have you most learned in your time at CIP?
It’s hard to pick just one thing because everyday is a new learning curve which is why I love what I do. Our students continue to teach me to view things in a different perspective which allows me to meet them where they are at. At times, if I feel like I am not explaining myself well, I will ask them, “What works for you? Or tell me how you typically remember information?” That usually gives me ideas on how to best approach or redeliver the information. I have also learned that I work with so many talented individuals and that any question I have will always be answered. Truly the BEST community ever!
How has CIP helped you grow in your career?
CIP has been supportive and very influential with my willingness to grow. From the very start, CIP has provided me with various opportunities to showcase my skills from leading events at the Center, out in the community, and by also giving me a platform to grow as a person. Most recently, I have been given the opportunity to join the Diversity and Inclusion Council which I am ecstatic to do. Being a part of an organization where I can learn and educate others while providing a sense of well-being and inclusivity is very important to me.
What’s your favorite part about working at CIP?
I love seeing the progress our students make within the modules and even more-so when they generalize the material learned in the natural environment. I also love seeing our introverted students come out of their shells and engage in conversation even if it’s just small talk. Additionally, I love that I get to collaborate with my colleagues and support other departments when needed. It is so fulfilling to know that we are working together for the same reasons. Everyday looks different at CIP and I love that!
CIP’s focus for the program year is ASPIRE. What do you aspire to do or be in the upcoming year?
This upcoming year I aspire to continue to grow professionally. My resolution last year was to be less hard on myself and seize the moment which was accomplished. This upcoming year, I aspire to be the best advocate for the Long Beach Center as the new ambassador for the 2022- 2023 Diversity and Inclusion Council as well as get to connect with my colleagues from all around the CIP Centers. I am the most eager to experience and get to learn something new.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
Hmmm, I am bilingual and my first language is Spanish. To add on to the fun fact, as a child I owned all the Disney movies in Spanish (The Lion King, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, etc). Later on down the road, I found out the “real names” of all the characters in English and was absolutely baffled. After I learned to speak English at school, I continued to practice Spanish at home and was placed in duo language classes in grade school. I also took Honors and AP Spanish in High School to not lose my native tongue. Happy to report I am fluent in both verbal and written.
The College Internship Program is a comprehensive transition program for young adults on the Autism Spectrum and with Learning Differences. Our Mission is to inspire independence and expand the foundation on which young adults with Autism, ADHD, and other Learning Differences can build happy and productive lives.