This spotlight features Yadira Morales, who recently joined NeuroNav as a Service Navigator!
Can you tell us about your education and background?
I went to Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where I majored in Philosophy and Japanese. It was a great experience—I learned a lot from studying philosophy, especially about asking the right questions and not taking anything for granted. I gained a lot of experience with reading complex arguments, and I think that's been helpful for my overall critical thinking skills. With Japanese, I was just really interested in learning language at the time. I got a chance to really dive into cultural studies and literature, which only grew my love for storytelling.
I struggled a lot during college with managing my time and the workload, but I assumed everyone else was struggling the same. It wasn't until many years afterwards that I realized I was actually struggling more than other people, or at least in different ways.
After I graduated I worked in a lot of different sectors. I especially enjoyed working on new projects and trying to build up resources within those workplaces. I worked for a snack food company, where I got the chance to work on some individual projects, but I ran into a lot of obstacles with management and there wasn't a lot of room to make improvements, even though I really wanted to. I later worked at a hotel in group housing, but being a big company there was also very little room to make changes and improvements. I was able to develop training materials, and enjoyed training new hires.
It wasn't until I left the hotel that I received my autism diagnosis. That changed everything. Suddenly all the struggles I had faced throughout my life started to snap into place. I had gained the key to understanding myself, and the vocabulary I needed to learn more.
As I learned more about myself, I became very interested in learning about and developing organization and productivity tools that worked for me and the way my brain worked. The more I learned, the more I wanted to share it with others like me, so I created a website called Expand Yu where I write about productivity, organization, self-accommodation, and neurodiversity.
What drew you to becoming a Navigator for NeuroNav?
In the time I spent developing resources and methods for neurodivergent people, I think I approached the ideas of person-centered planning and self-determination before even having heard about it. After all, my goal with Expand Yu was to help people create customized productivity and support systems based on their needs and what they wanted to accomplish.
So I could not be more excited to now be working for a company so dedicated to helping people reach their dreams in a way best suited for them. I have so much more to learn and now find myself in the perfect place to do just that.
What have you enjoyed about NeuroNav so far?
It’s been great so far—I feel super welcomed. Everyone has been so warm, welcoming, and kind. I think one of the things I’m most excited about working with NeuroNav is how eager everyone is to be accommodating. While I was applying for jobs this summer, I found myself dreading the possibility of working somewhere where I didn’t feel safe disclosing that I’m autistic. Although it’s still kind of new to me, I couldn’t imagine working somewhere where I couldn’t talk about it. I feel super lucky to be here, where I can not only be open about it, but talk about it and be accommodated in different ways. I feel very hopeful about the environment here —I think that there is a desire to do better wherever possible and that gives me a lot of hope.
What are some of your goals?
Right now one of my goals is to create a place within NeuroNav where I can use the skills and knowledge I've gained about productivity and help the rest of the team be more efficient. When I think of productivity I think about working less -- not more -- and getting things done faster so we have time to rest and do the many other things that are important to us.
I feel very strongly that working with NeuroNav is exactly where I need to be right now, regardless of where I might be in another 10 years.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I am really passionate about storytelling and am a bit of a fiction writer. I enjoy analyzing stories and discussing fiction with friends—I could talk forever about my favorite stories. I also enjoy listening to storytelling podcasts. My current favorite is one called “Friends at the Table.”