Wednesday, May 5, 2021

By: Claire Quigle

Welcome back to “Where Do You Work” Wednesday! This week we would like you to meet alumna Erica Kaldenberg (Ph.D. Special Education).

Kaldenberg is originally from Fargo, North Dakota. She obtained a bachelor’s in Journalism Mass Communications with an emphasis in public relations & a minor in psychology from Iowa State University before becoming a middle school teacher for Atlanta Public Schools in 2006.

She then moved to St. Louis where she took a position as a special education teacher and began working on a Master’s degree in Special Education at the University of Missouri St. Louis. After completing a series of courses and various practicum requirements, she obtained her Iowa teaching license (Instructional Strategist 1 K-8) in 2010.

Once she decided to pursue her Ph.D. in special education, she spent the next five years taking advantage of research opportunities, teaching assistantships, course offerings in advanced quantitative research, program evaluation, special education, special education law, and higher education. She also defended her dissertation titled “Efficacy of a Sentence Writing Strategy for Postsecondary Students with Special Needs.”

Kaldenberg says she became increasingly interested in learning more about writing interventions for students with learning and intellectual disability. She says her journalism background and classroom experience played a large role in her desire to learn about this.

As a doctoral student, Kaldenberg was able to be a part of at least four writing studies. Each study examined the impact of a specific writing intervention for students in the UI REACH Program.

UI REACH (Realizing Educational and Career Hopes) is a comprehensive transition program for students ages 18-25 years old with intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities. UI REACH offers an integrated college experience in a caring and structured environment.

Kaldenberg says her experience working with the UI REACH Program opened her eyes to the much larger national inclusive postsecondary movement, which she studied while working on her dissertation.

“In June of 2015, I joined the UI REACH team,” Kaldenberg says. “Since then, I have had the pleasure of watching 100+ students become the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, live and learn from the college experience, and after graduation--continue to pursue long-term goals and dreams while successfully achieving their short-term ambitions.”

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