Zachary Behlok is well-rounded, to say the least. Initially a software developer with experience in the aerospace industry, Behlok decided to shift his educational journey toward other passions he had previously not permitted himself to explore.
Behlok has earned an AS in Computer Information Systems, an AA in Liberal Arts, and an AA in Applied Psychology online from the Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech). He is also set to graduate with a BA in Applied Psychology in December 2022 and has already been accepted into an MA in Behavioral Analysis Practice upon completing his BA degree.
Behlok has made use of his Florida Tech education in liberal arts and applied psychology to help him gain work in applied behavior analysis, where he holds a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) credential granted by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. His current work enables him to assist children on the autism spectrum to help them become the best versions of themselves.
His interests don’t stop there, though; he is also a passionate advocate for continued discourse on philosophy. From ethics or existentialism, Behlok is interested in philosophical topics and is a published author of five books:
- “Penalties of a Judgmental Mind”
- “The Overthinker’s Guide to Existentialism”
- “The Requiem of Apathy and Sorrow”
- “Manipulating Nature: An Existential Essay Regarding Humanity’s Impact on the World Around Us”
- “They Want You to Go Insane!”
Behlok also hosts a podcast called “Think More,” in which he addresses various social issues and how a philosophical perspective can help people think through them.
In this student spotlight interview, Behlok describes his motivations for earning his Florida Tech degrees, what he found valuable about Florida Tech and where he believes his education will take him.
Q: What factors influenced your decision to choose Florida Tech to advance your education?
Deciding when and where to go back to school is a difficult choice for some, but it’s very straightforward for others. Behlok is one of the latter. On his decision to attend Florida Tech, Behlok said:
“The personal opinion on continuing my education was never a difficult choice in my life, and come to think of it, neither was my decision on where to do so. Being a lifelong resident of Brevard County, Florida Tech has always been a staple in and around my community. Once given the opportunity to develop myself, both personally and professionally, at Florida Tech, the choice to do so was one of the most natural decisions of my life thus far.”
Q: Summarize your experiences in the Florida Tech programs, and how you have applied the knowledge outside of the classroom?
While industry preparation and knowledge may vary between students, Behlok expressed his appreciation for the technical knowledge and industry skills he gained from both the AA and AS curricula, saying:
“My experiences in the AA and AS programs at Florida Tech were exceptional. The AS in Computer Information Systems allowed for my progression into an entry-level engineering position in the aerospace industry. The AA degrees in Liberal Arts and Applied Psychology allowed for me to transition smoothly from the engineering field into the mental healthcare field with no worries, as I was both knowledgeable and comfortable with both myself and the field in general. There have been many takeaways from these programs, most of which being leadership skills through the various group projects and basic industry-wide knowledge.”
Satisfied with both the skills and leadership abilities he gained, Behlok feels that his time at FT equips him to succeed.
Q: Which classes and instructors impacted you the most?
Though every experience varies, it’s not uncommon for students to have certain classes and instructors that have a memorable impact on their lives. For Behlok, one such instructor was Dr. Cecilia Knoll. She passed away in 2021, but Behlok remembers the guidance she provided:
“I have always struggled with certain aspects of algebra, and her guidance really assisted in the solidification of those troubling concepts into my mind. I will forever be grateful that I was able to take a course under her instruction.”
Q: What challenges did you face as an online student and how are you overcoming them?
Both in-person and remote education present opportunities and challenges, and having experienced them both, Behlok noted the role that different communication mediums can play and explained the importance of hearing every student’s thoughts, saying:
“The online discussion boards were originally tricky to see value in, but over time, I realized that everyone has very different opinions on the same subjects, and other people’s input can be greatly valuable to the entire class.”
Q: How do you expect your Florida Tech degrees to make a difference in your career?
Behlok is eager to reap the full benefits of completing his BA degree and future master’s work, but he already sees the effects of a Florida Tech education. The degrees Behlok has earned have helped him in his personal life, and his future work can help him achieve the credentials needed to further his career.
“My Florida Tech degrees have already had a huge impact on my life, but the degrees that I am currently pursuing will allow me to progress even further, both in my personal and professional life. Upon completion of my current BA in Applied Psychology program, I will begin my MA in Behavior Analysis Practice, which will allow me to fulfill the requirements to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). My plan to become a BCBA will allow me to continue my work with children diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).”
Q: What advice would you give students considering one of the programs you’ve chosen?
Students who go back to school often work through many uncertainties. Fearing it is too late or that the journey will be too long may cause hesitation in those pivoting to a new degree pathway or furthering their education. Behlok offered some encouragement to prospective students facing those concerns, saying:
“The main piece of advice that I would give to anyone considering these programs is go for it. I held myself back from going back to my university studies for a very long time, and since going back, I have had no regrets. As humans, we tend to believe that we are either too old to go to college, or that it would take too long to complete. The fact of the matter is that we will age no matter what. For me, even if I do not finish my studies until I am into my elder years, at least I finished, and kept the promise to myself that I made in my younger years.”
Q: Who has been your support system, and who or what inspires you to succeed?
Whether it’s family or a promise you’ve made to yourself, everyone needs motivation to succeed. A quality support system can be instrumental in helping students cross the academic finish line, and Behlok credits his wife for helping him run his race.
“My wife, Kayla, has been my rock through all of my endeavors. She has been a constant source of support, and every time that I have felt beaten down or unmotivated, she has reminded me to keep pushing. She is my inspiration, and without her, I would not have been able to reach any amount of success.”
Q: Describe your experience with Bisk and your student success coach.
Florida Tech partners with Bisk Education to implement and support its online programs. Part of those services includes Student Success Coaches who help remote learners make the most of the online programs. Behlok expressed his appreciation for his Student Success Coach, saying:
“My experience with Bisk, and especially with my Student Success Coach Candace Pistole, has been phenomenal. I am the kind of person who continually asks questions, and Candace provides answers and guidance in a prompt and respectful manner every single time. I feel confident in the suggestions and advice given by Candace and know that she truly has my best intention in mind.”
Behlok was particularly thankful for Pistole’s assistance in helping him navigate the transition from one degree pathway to another.
“One example of her support was when I decided to make the change from the BA in Computer Information Systems program to the BA in Applied Psychology program. I made the decision to do so very close to the next term, and with Candace’s extraordinary sense of work ethic and care, made sure to change my entire course registration, as well as walk me through the entire process in getting a degree completion plan from the associated School of Psychology. I do not believe that my success would be anywhere near its current extent without the help of Candace. She had a direct impact on my college experience and continues to do so.”
Q: What has a Florida Tech education taught you about yourself?
Our goals in pursuits can change as we develop, just like us. In addition to professional learning, Behlok noted just how much he has learned about himself:
“I learned that my wants and needs in life are quite the opposite from what I originally believed them to be. This experience allowed me to become who I truly am, define my personal interests, and set meaningful professional goals.”