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Maurice Moses Discusses the Profession of Psychology and Working On One’s Mental Health

Currently from Michigan, Maurice Moses’ parents originally met at University of London during graduate school – his father is a retired physics instructor and my mother was an accountant. She passed away on November 22, 2013. Maurice’s father is 90 years. His father’s homeland is Spain, his mother was from Rangoon Burma. Maurice Moses was […]

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Maurice Moses
Maurice Moses

Currently from Michigan, Maurice Moses’ parents originally met at University of London during graduate school – his father is a retired physics instructor and my mother was an accountant. She passed away on November 22, 2013. Maurice’s father is 90 years. His father’s homeland is Spain, his mother was from Rangoon Burma. Maurice Moses was born in Rangoon, Burma on March 30, 1960. He lived in Burma until he was 4 years old and they literally snuck out of the country due to military dominance and inhumane violence towards the Burmese citizens. He spoke fluent Burmese and no other language.

Maurice Moses and his family then moved to Bangkok, Thailand when he was 4 years old because of the increase violence towards the people of Burma. They lived in Thailand from 1964 to 1968. At the time, he spoke fluent Burmese, Spanish, and Thai. They moved to the U.S. because of the ripple tension effect from Vietnam War, potential violence, and the lack of predictability. Moses only started learning to speak English 6 months before moving to Michigan. In 1968, the Vietnam War was expanding and becoming less predictable, so they decided to move to the United States. The culture shock was unbelievable – they moved from Bangkok Thailand to a small town in central Michigan (Roscommon). The experience of moving from a large city to a small rural town in Northern Michigan where 99% of the population was Caucasian had a significant impact on his perception of the world and his personality, in general.

Maurice Moses graduated from Roscommon H.S. in 1979. He attended a catholic college (Aquinas College) in Grand Rapids and transferred to Michigan State University in East Lansing in June of 1982. He then completed his Bachelor’s in Science from MSU in May of 1984. He worked full-time as a behavior specialist at Clinton-Eaton-Ingham Community Mental Health. His job duties included: working with children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Emotional and Psychiatric Disorder, and individuals with developmental disabilities.

In addition, Maurice worked at St. Lawrence Psychiatric Inpatient Unit on a part-time basis for 5 years (1985-1990). CEI CMH sponsored and endorsed a full-time scholarship to graduate school at Central Michigan University in Clinically Psychology. Upon graduation, he owed them 2 years of full-time work.

When he graduated with a Masters-degree in Clinical Psychology in 1990 – CEI CMH promoted me to a Senior Psychologist – overseeing and monitoring 4 M.A. Limited Licensed Psychologist and 2 behavior specialists.

CEI CMH provided additional incentives to keep him at their agency by: providing him with contractual work involving OBRA screenings, Children Waivers (working with children with Autism), Probate Court Guardianship Evaluations and Hearings, and approved 28-30 administrative leave days a year from 1990 to 1995 to serve as a State and National Trainer in Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports. The federal fund paid for his travel, food, and honorarium to reimburse his human health agency.

He was appointed by the State Mental Health Director (Patrick Babcock, and later James Haveman) and Director of Special Education of MI (Ed Baldwin, Jaclyn Thompson), and Shari Falvi (Director of Children’s mental health services) and Deb Millhouse (Children’s Waiver director) to be a co-director of Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports for the Sate of Michigan. His appointment was from 1995 to 2005 (until Federal and State funds were depleted and they got a new governor who did not want to invest the money into schools and human health agencies).

In October of 1995, he resigned from my job at Clinton-Eaton-Ingham CMH to provide contractual services to schools on a full-time basis.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My background helps to explain what inspires me to help students that struggle. By the time I was eight or nine years old, I was speaking four different languages and dealing with a culture shock. I was born in Rangoon, Burma. My mom was from Rangoon, Burma. It is called Myanmar now. My mom and dad met at the University of London in graduate school. My mom is in business and accounting. My dad is a physicist. We moved back to Rangoon and my dad was pretty much forced to work as a physicist with the army. They really liked him, and they kept pushing him up in the ranks. He was close friends with a general who wanted my dad to get more and more involved. I was born in 1960 and my brother was born in 1961. My family wanted to get out of there because the military was very authoritative and there was a lot of human cruelty stuff. I spoke very fluent Burmese at that point. We snuck out. They would not let my dad go, but my mom went and got an accounting job in Bangkok, Thailand.

She was pregnant when she left. But they would not let my dad go. They really valued him. My dad knew a colonel that would help us sneak out literally and we went to Bangkok. My dad taught at the university of Bangkok, and we lived there for four years. I already knew how to speak Spanish and now I learned fluent Thai, in addition to Burmese.

Then in 1968, the Vietnam War was getting unpredictable and action might come

towards Thailand, so we decided to move to the United States. My dad’s friend, a dean

of instruction, was hired to be the president of a college that was not even built yet

called Kirtland Community College in Michigan.

When we moved there in 1968, we were the only minorities. It was a big culture shock

and of course, I had to learn English, but I think it made us more resilient. It really did

inspire me because the teachers were not able to teach me because of the language

barrier. Many thought I had ADHD or some sort of impairment. I had a speech

therapist that worked with me and my brother for three or four days a week. I felt what it

was to be labeled or judged. But a lot of it went over my head because of the lack of

cultural awareness. It did not hit me too hard because I did not know. That is what

inspired me to help children.

Who has been a role model to you and why?

My parents were excellent role models – their persistence, determination to succeed on a personal and professional level were great pathways for us to follow. They have been supportive, kind, generous, and have shown us unconditional love. Both he and my mother were brave to take risks to better our lives – leaving oppressed and volatile countries to seek freedom, provided us the opportunity to learn and grow. My parents emphasized the importance and value of education since we were 2 or 3 years old – we were conditioned to assume education was our ticket to success.

I also looked up to a couple people on the national team of the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports that have taken me under their wings. I have known many of them since 1988, and they have been incredibly supportive.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

During times when I have been doing a lot of traveling to conduct workshops, being away from my kids, and working 70 to 80 hours a week, it was quite a challenge. It took me some time to learn how to balance that. Then what I did was I started to get more organized with a calendar so I could get home and attend some of my sons’ soccer games and school functions. At first, I was scheduling everything around work until I realized I had control over this, and I could make improvements and be flexible. It took some time to learn how to say “no” and ask people to accommodate my need for

flexibility as well. Then I was able do a better job balancing between my home and work life.

What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?

I would take a hard look at where you are the happiest. You need to sample the different aspects of the profession, but you do not get much of that experience in graduate school. You should really experience a job at a hospital or with a community mental health agency or where you think you might like to work.

If you want a job with more flexibility and a little less pay, you will go to the community mental health agency. If you want a job that is more normal hours and you want more structure, but you get out at 3:00 and have summer offs, then you would go to the schools. If you want a job that is more pressure but busy and well respected and you work in multidisciplinary groups, then you work at the hospitals. There are the regular hospitals, the inpatient, the acute psychiatric, and then there is the long-term residential care. There is also private practice.

I would say visit each of them while you are in graduate school. If you are not sure, start somewhere and give it a year or two and then move around until you find the right fit. You will learn more from every experience. Focus on where you can make the best impact on others and help others and where you are going to be happiest.

What has been the hardest obstacle you have overcome?

In primary school, language and culture was a big obstacle for me. It was just pure grit that took me through the social and educational gauntlet. That laid the framework of relentlessness and not giving up. That is why I do not want to give up on the children I work with today.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

One colleague shared the advice with me to never talk down to or think you are better

than a teacher or parent. Show them respect. Of course, that applies to anyone, not

just teachers. Always have a genuine regard for those you speak and interact in all

settings. One teacher told me once, “I was teaching when you were in diapers.” I said,

“I bet you are right. I bet there is a lot you can teach me.” Teachers might be burned

out, angry, or having a bad day, but you need to listen.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I was proud of being the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports director for

10 years, from 1995 to 2005. I did a lot of training back then. In order to become the

director, you had to be recommended and receive endorsements from several people,

and that meant a lot to me.

I am also proud of the hundreds of workshops I have done for schools and for different

associations, such as the School Social Work Association, the School Psychologists

Association, and the Emotional Impairment Association. We generally had between

100 to 200 in attendance.

I am also proud of the manuals that I have put together. I have already written 35 different manuals on various topics ranging from 50 to 350 pages. I will be even more proud once I get my book done.

Outside of work, what defines you as a person?

I am a husband and a grandpa. I am proud of both, but being a grandpa is pretty great. I have two old grandchildren, and as I am getting older, I want to spend a lot more time with them.

Outside of work, I also like to define myself as a good person, one that is helpful

towards others. I volunteer in different capacities at my church and community on a regular basis.

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