Mikaela Costales left Lanai in 2007 to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa on Oahu, where she studied marketing. After completing her freshmen year, Mikaela decided to explore a different path and moved to Las Vegas. She entered an IT program, but ultimately realized that she wanted a career where she could give back to others. Mikaela returned to Lanai and started working at LHES as a teacher’s aide before transitioning to an educational assistant.
With a renewed purpose, Mikaela returned to UH Manoa and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and special education. After graduation, she worked as an elementary school special educator in Honolulu, where she was inspired by her students to further her education. Mikaela made the move to Washington to attend graduate school and start a new career in applied behavior analysis (ABA). In 2020, she earned her master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in ABA from Capella University.
Recently, Mikaela and her fiancé, Jeremy, bought a house in Washington to settle down with their dog, Cooper. She now works as a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) for a private practice. As a BCBA, Mikaela is able to combine her experience as an elementary school special educator with her psychology degree to help families and their children who are diagnosed with autism. On a typical day, you can find Mikaela providing therapy to her clients, supervising technicians and training caregivers in a clinical setting, at schools or at the clients’ homes.
During the pandemic, her clinic was shut down to keep staff and clients safe. Like many other health service providers, she transitioned to telehealth, providing care to clients and their parents who were facing the many changes and challenges that the pandemic created. In June 2020, the clinic reopened for in-person sessions under strict health and safety guidelines.
Despite her busy schedule, Mikaela finds time to visit Lanai at least once a year. When she is home, Mikaela spends time with her family and friends at the beach, enjoying the sunshine.
Her advice to the next generation? “Find your passion. Then do whatever it takes so that you can do it every day. It is never too late to start a new journey or to take a new path in life.”
“Where are they now?” features alumni from Lanai High and Elementary School to see what they’ve been up to since graduation.