Jennifer Hamrick, PhD, BCBA, LBA is the Director of the Burkhart Center for Autism Education & Research and an Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University. Dr. Hamrick joined our board in 2022 and quickly hit the ground running, providing support to AST staff and individuals in the Autism community. Jennifer is the Team Captain of AST’s Bike to the Beach Team, whose members will be riding in the 100, 50, or 25 mile rides during the Bike to the Beach event on October 14th between Houston and Galveston; “I’m very excited to be part of the AST Bike to the Beach team this year and hope that we have a great group to support our cause that also helps us fundraise in order to continue to provide the much needed support Texas families need!” You can join or donate to the AST Bike to the Beach Team here!
Read our interview with Jennifer below!
What is your connection to Autism?
Prior to joining Texas Tech University, I was a public educator for 18 years. I can still remember, as a new teacher, the first student I had who had a diagnosis of autism and my team and I not truly understanding his needs without substantial support and training from some outside resources. All these years later, as a researcher at a Texas university, I still meet new teachers who report not knowing or understanding how to work with their students and desperately needing help. We still have so much to learn from and about our students to best serve their needs and I hope that in my current role, I can have a positive impact on both teachers and individuals with AST to help them be as independent & successful as they possibly can be in life.
How did you become involved with AST?
As an educator, AST has always been an organization I have shared with families who are looking for resources and needing help navigating services in Texas. When asked to be part of the board, I jumped on the chance to more involved and to better understand how we can help. I have a much better understanding of AST now and am so happy to be part of a great group whose mission is to, “empower everyone in the Autism community with the resources needed to live fully.”
Why is being a part of the AST Board important to you?
I love seeing the impact AST has across the entire state of Texas! Our Director of Statewide Education and Research, Adriana Crostley, reaches out to me often to help families in the West Texas region connect with resources that may benefit their individual needs. I have also met many parents of children through AST and have heard of continued struggles so many are still dealing with in navigating multiple systems when trying to help their kids. We still have so much work to do and I’m proud to be part of an organization dedicated to help