April 28, 2014
Time stops for no one when Karlie Watts is at work, which perhaps is one of the reasons she’s excelled at her job over the past seven years.
Karlie, a food service worker in the Student Union Building (SUB), frequently is seen cleaning and putting away trays.
The Albuquerque native graduated from the Burkhart Transition Academy in 2010, which she credits for teaching her social skills. The transition academy provides educational opportunities for people who are on the autism spectrum.
“It can be really hard to be social, but the Burkhart Center taught me how to be social and interact with people,” Karlie said. “It helped me do well at my job, and I love working at the SUB.”
Kyla Robinson, unit supervisor at the SUB, said Karlie always comes to work on task and knows exactly what needs to be completed.
“She’ll work every second she’s here until she clocks out,” Robinson said. “I will ask her to do something and she jumps on it. We don’t even have to tell her what to do because she knows exactly what needs to be done.”
Karlie has worked at the SUB for more than seven years.
Robinson said two other students who attend the Burkhart Transition Center interned at the SUB this semester. Karlie trained those students.
“For her to do that is really incredible,” Robinson said.
Cape Caperton, another of Karlie’s unit supervisors, agreed she is one of the hardest working employees.
“She comes in and gets to work,” Caperton said. “If you ask her to do something, she’s probably already done it. We never have to worry about her not working hard.”
As part of Autism Awareness Month, Texas Tech Today is highlighting the work done by the Burkhart Transition Academy. Several academy graduates earn jobs on and off campus, thanks to partnerships between the academy and different businesses in the Lubbock community. Throughout the month, we will highlight some of the students who benefit from these partnerships.
The Burkhart Transition Academy is part of the College of Education’s Burkhart Center for Autism Education & Research. It provides postsecondary educational strength-based assessment to aid people with autism-spectrum disorder (ASD) transition to postsecondary higher education and vocational settings.
Classes for young adults with ASD having completed high school meet four days per week to teach life, job and social skills.
The 2014 Burkhart Walk for Autism Awareness will be held 2 p.m. April 27 (Sunday) at Jones AT&T Stadium. The walk is open to all members of the community, and participants can sign up individually or as teams. To learn more or register for the walk, click here