Jason Dybsetter — Behavior Analyst

Jason Dybsetter

Jason Dybsetter, Covenant Award for Service Recipient. 2004-05 Academic Year

Jason Dybsetter '05, originally from Yankton, South Dakota, majored in biology and religion at Augustana. He received the Covenant Award for Service for the 2004-05 academic year. 

Q. Tell us about your journey after graduating from Augustana — your career path (what are you doing now), family, education (graduate school), travel, etc.

A. After graduating from Augustana, I attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and earned a master of arts degree in New Testament. After Luther, I returned to Sioux Falls and intended to continue my biblical studies and obtain a Ph.D. I had the privilege of teaching two semesters of Introduction to the Christian Faith at Augustana in the falls of 2008 and 2012. While exploring my next steps for graduate school, I also worked at LifeScape (formerly Children’s Care Hospital and School) with children with autism and other special needs. During this time at LifeScape, I first encountered the power and promise of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in supporting and teaching children with disabilities. The decision was a difficult one, but I eventually decided to depart from my biblical pursuits and set myself on becoming a board certified behavior analyst, which I obtained in 2013. I have worked as a behavior analyst in schools and residential facilities since then.

I also have a daughter, Charly, who was born in 2013.

Q. Greatest challenges and best rewards of your current role?

A. In my role as a behavior analyst, I often encounter students who engage in very severe, very dangerous problem behavior, such as self-injury, aggression, ingestion of inedible objects. Seeing the detrimental effects of these kinds of behavior on students and their families can be very challenging. The best rewards of my current role come when I am able to work with students, families, and teams at schools to mitigate the detrimental effects of such behaviors and help set the student on the path of success.

Q. Favorite class or favorite professor at Augustana, and why?

A. Choosing a single, favorite class from among all those I took during my time at Augustana is a difficult task, but to this day RELI 229, “Reading for Meaning and Truth with Hermes, God of Thieves and Interpreters,” with Dr. Richard Swanson still stands out as my favorite. My studies in “Reading for Meaning and Truth” revealed for me the necessity of studying religion in addition to Biology and set me firmly on that double-major path.

Q. What were you involved in that prepared you for the present and future?

A. First and foremost, my studies at Augustana and the contact those studies brought with so many amazing professors and fellow students are what ultimately prepared me for the present and future. The many lifelong friendships I established while at Augustana and have continued in since have also played an important role in that preparation.

Q. Best Augie memory?

A. My best Augie memory is of graduation day. Celebrating as a community my hard work and the hard work of my fellow graduates remains one of the proudest times in my life.

Q. Greatest professional accomplishment thus far?

A. I was a founding member and am the current president of the South Dakota Association for Behavior Analysis, a professional association of practitioners of applied behavior analysis whose mission is to advance awareness, practice, and access to the science and practice of behavior analysis in the state of South Dakota.

Q. If you could offer an Augustana student some advice, what would you say?

A. In every social setting you find yourself — whether it’s in school, with your family and friends, or at work — praise the behaviors of those around you that you want to see more of (a practice central to ABA). Doing so will make you someone others want to be around and will make those behaviors more likely to happen more. The world doesn’t have enough praise in it. Add some more.

Q. A foundation for life at Augustana begins with our five core values – Christian Faith, Liberal Arts, Excellence, Community and Service. How did your time at Augustana help to ensure those values remain central in your life?

A. Augustana, in both its culture and curriculum, actively strives to model, teach, and reinforce its five core values in its students. Choosing to study at Augustana, and engaging actively in the culture and curriculum of Augustana, ensured those values were central to my life during those formative years of undergraduate study. Augustana’s five core values have continued as central components of my value base to this day.