Alex Casillas

Alex Casillas

Principal Research Psychologist


ACT, Inc.

Milestones

Milestones

My road in life took a while to figure out.
Realizing that I could get an education at a top college (even if my family did not have the financial means)
Realizing that graduate school was a path I could take that would result in a more fulfilling set of career choices as well as more financial stability
Getting exposed to an applied research organization (instead of just academic research) which turned out to be a great fit for me
Being able to pivot in my job so that I could shape it to meet both organizational needs as well as my own evolving/changing interests
Keep following my journey
Education

Education

highschool
High School
undergrad
Bachelor
Psychology, General
Grinnell College
graduate
Graduate
Clinical Psychology
University of Iowa
doctorate
Doctorate
Clinical Psychology
University of Iowa
Career

Career

Principal Research Psychologist

I do research on the behaviors that lead to success in both school and work settings.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Education
Education
Numbers
Numbers
Working with Others
Working with Others

Day to Day

Some combination of independent work (e.g., reading research literature, contributing to a research report) and work with project teams to address a problem (e.g., solutions for students who are at risk of dropping out of school). The day would likely include a variety of meetings and switching from one topic/project to another.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

I spend a lot of time talking to different audiences both internal (people in other departments who are not in research) and external (educators, administrators, policymakers). It is important to have good interpersonal skills and good presentation skills. Also, due to the range and complexity of problems that we are trying to address, it is important to be flexible and creative.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
Psychology, General
graduate
Graduate
Clinical Psychology
doctorate
Doctorate
Clinical Psychology
Hurdles

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"Go back to Mexico. If you are not a U.S. citizen and you don’t have lots of money, you can’t get a good education in the U.S. Why do you want to get a degree from a liberal arts institution? Why do you want to spend so many years in school?"

I feel fortunate to have had a number of good opportunities and supportive people who were cheerleaders throughout my academic and work career (including family, friends, mentors). Overcoming some of the noise was easier because of their support. Further, I realized that the choices that I made were to support my interests and where I wanted to go in life (not meant to please others) and that, if I wanted to be helpful to others, that I could do so by pursuing an area that I loved...