Laura Previlar

Meet Laura Previlar. Soon after taking her first desk job with an IT company right out of college, Laura Previlar realized that her heart wasn't in it. She couldn't shake the interest that had been culminating over the course of her life: to work with individuals with autism and other special needs. 

She had volunteered with this population before but didn't think she could make it a career! It was with one simple search on Indeed that she found out she could, thanks to a job posting from May Institute. 

Laura joined May Institute as a teaching assistant (TA) at the May Center School in Randolph in 2018. In that role, she was a reliable figure of love and support, helping students transition from residence to classroom and ultimately learning a great deal. "Because I was new to the field, I really focused on learning from the lead teachers. That first year, I took in a lot." 

It didn't take long for Laura to realize that it was the work environment she had always wanted for herself. Helping students achieve milestones on a daily basis became her motivation. The small victories drove her growing passion for working with kids with autism and other developmental disabilities. "I'll never forget the eight-year-old boy who came to us from the public school system, who was completely nonverbal. Over his time at May, he started to form singular words, then groups of words, and then small sentences. It was amazing!" 

After working as a TA, Laura was accepted into a master's program to obtain her teaching license. Upon completion, she became a lead teacher, helping her students reach memorable milestones in and out of the classroom. 

"More than anything, the biggest thing that I took away from working at May was how to communicate with people, not just people with disabilities. It taught me how to approach everyone with patience and compassion. Working there completely shaped my career." 

Fast forward to today, and Laura is fundraising and training for the famous Falmouth Road Race. This year, she joins 11 other runners that form the annual May race team to raise funds and awareness. It's her fifth year running on behalf of May Institute and her second year running as a former employee. Although she has moved on from the organization, Laura is adamant about supporting May Institute for the long haul. 

"A lot of people don't understand autism at the profound level. I want to continue to raise awareness wherever I can!" As she prepares for the race, Laura looks back at her time with May. She reflects on the many firsts she witnessed and the many lessons she's carried into her new role in therapeutic services. 

“May will always hold a place near and dear to my heart. I run because I want to continue to be a voice for kids who don’t have a voice, and an advocate for their parents. I want it to always be a part of my life.”

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