Child Life Specialist
Parkland Hospital NICU
As one of the top education schools in the country, Peabody is widely recognized for its excellence in academia and research. What ultimately drew me to Peabody, however, was the people—the faculty, the students, and the community. I was drawn to the Child Studies M.Ed. program, in particular, by the director, Vicki Harris. I cannot think of a more involved, genuine or passionate mentor for a graduate student to have.
Vicki (Harris) embraced my academic and career goals and assisted me in developing a program of studies that complimented my interests. I was able to combine challenging and innovative courses with eye-opening clinical experiences. Between working with the pediatric palliative care team and local pediatric hospice, completing special education research at preschools throughout Nashville, and completing internships and volunteer experiences at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, not a day went by that I didn’t feel fulfilled and motivated. As a Child Studies student, I was able to take courses in a variety of different Peabody programs that allowed me to explore different fields and perspectives while continuously being challenged and inspired by the course work.
I am now a Certified Child Life Specialist at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, working in a level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I assist in promoting healthy attachment and bonding and positive development in our babies, who are hospitalized for a several reasons, such as prematurity, drug exposure, and a variety of neonatal diagnoses. The developmental care I provide includes education with families, promoting the mother-infant bond, enhancing positive touch, providing opportunities for therapeutic play, as well as stocking the NICU with a variety of developmental products that assist the medical team in providing a safe and developmentally friendly environment for our babies. I am involved in family-centered care, providing opportunities to strengthen the family unit despite hospitalization and enhancing coping skills within and among families who have an infant in the NICU. In addition, I provide bereavement support to families who experience both perinatal and postnatal losses.
Peabody College ingrained a sense of responsibility within me to take my education and do good with it—both in my work and in my life. While Peabody provided me with a foundation of knowledge, skills, and best practices, it also armed me with a strong desire to be a skeptic, ask big questions, and seek new answers. Peabody taught me to take risks, with the idea that there is always room for improvement.