Missouri State University
Brandi Burt

Brandi Burt

Why she has 'the coolest job in the history of jobs'

Life steered her away from school, but she returned to pursue her passion: special education. 

Brandi Burt started college at Missouri State in 1993, then life — having children, moving to another state — took her away from the land of the Bears.

She had been working in a middle school when she found out her position would no longer be available.

She was back in Missouri, and determined to get back to school. She not only finished her Missouri State bachelor’s, she is now on a path to earn a graduate degree to pursue her passion: “I am heart and soul in love with special education.”

A career like no other 

“It is amazing. We have had parents who said their children are engaging with them for the first time. … I have the coolest job in the history of jobs.”

Burt works for the school district of Neosho (Mo.) as a behavior implementer at an autism center, someone who addresses students’ inappropriate behaviors, helps the school and students manage behavior, and helps the students become more academically successful.

“We have kids in our program who have autism, emotional disturbances and behavior disorders.”

There are currently about 15 children in the program, ranging in age from kindergarten to fifth grade.

“Our goal is to integrate these kids back into the regular classroom setting.”

The program may focus on counting, letters, math, social skills and classroom readiness. 

She hopes to someday teach in a classroom that allows children both with and without learning disabilities to work alongside one another.

From father to daughter: a devotion to special ed 

When considering going back to school, she consulted her father, Doug Gripka — in her opinion, “the greatest man, other than Jesus, to walk on two legs.”

As a 2014 graduate of the SEACT program himself, he encouraged her to follow in his footsteps.

“My dad and I are both extremely passionate about special education. He knew Missouri State would be the right fit for me, and I wholeheartedly trusted him.”

Now, two of her four children are attending Missouri State in exercise science programs.

“There are three generations of us! I would encourage anyone to go to Missouri State. I love the school.”