Hi everyone! My name is Jasem (J) Alkazi. I am a research associate within SARRC's Research Department. I joined SARRC in September 2021 several months after graduating from the University of Arizona.
What drew you to SARRC? Why did you want to work here?
I studied neuroscience and cognitive sciences as an undergrad and have always been interested in learning about neurodevelopmental disorders. I learned about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in school and really wanted to further my understanding of it. That is when I found SARRC and learned about their research department! I’ve always been interested in research, which made an entire department devoted to research and furthering our understanding of autism sound exactly like what I was looking for! SARRC has many studies aimed at different components of ASD. To know that I could get to learn about these studies and share them with participants really piqued my interest and I had to join!
What are some of your responsibilities as a research associate?
My biggest responsibility at SARRC is SPARK! It’s a study where I recruit participants to learn more about autism and its genetic components. I help participants enroll and collect data via spitting into a tube (kiddos love this part!) either in our clinic, at the participant’s home, or through Zoom. This is definitely one of my favorite roles because of all the families I get to meet and the cool places I get to drive to (I even went to Tucson once!). My other responsibilities include data entry for other research studies, as well as learning and conducting assessments for them.
I also recently joined SARRC’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee. My goal as a committee member is to build an inclusive and welcoming environment for team members and clients of all backgrounds and demographics!
What is a skill you’ve gained or grown since working at SARRC?
Working well in a team is a skill I have grown since joining SARRC! Being a part of a supportive, hardworking, motivated, and fun team has made me realize how valuable teamwork is. I’ve grown to communicate really well with my peers and work to the best of my abilities because of it!
Is there an achievement or contribution you’re most proud of?
That’s a tough one! One that does come to mind is a very recent recruitment event I went to with my peer at the Phoenix Zoo. A family that has received services at SARRC also attended and recognized us. They told us how SARRC has been a huge blessing for them and how we’ve had a great impact on their lives. Hearing that we were able to make a difference in someone’s life made me feel really happy and proud to work for this organization! (It was definitely worth waking up at 4 a.m. for!)
Best advice for someone who wants to have a job like yours?
Be supportive, willing to learn and stay motivated! I have learned so much about autism from working here, and there is still so much I do not know, but I am always eager to learn. Each time I do a home visit for a family, I hear a different story and perspective on autism. I get to learn so much from the families that I work with, and it motivates me to keep reaching out to families and learn even more. Some families I work with do not have much exposure to autism research prior to working with SARRC, so I remember to listen to them and offer them support in any way I can. It also offers me an opportunity to share information about the many valuable resources that SARRC has to offer. At the end of the day, I, just like everyone else at SARRC, want to create an environment for families that helps them lead healthier and happier lives!
INSPIRED BY Jasem'S CAREER AND IMPACT?
Learn more about career opportunities at SARRC by browsing our open job positions at autismcenter.org/careers!