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Alumni Profiles

The Child Studies program offers a versatile graduate curriculum that students can mold to fit their aspirations. Some graduates seeking a doctoral degree have enrolled in the Child Studies program as a stepping-stone to obtaining higher-level degrees in such fields as clinical or developmental psychology. Others have opted to work with the Special Education department and complete coursework to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Still other students have gone on to applied research or "non-traditional education" positions, such as working in museum education, family resource centers, and even in schools abroad. A list of some of the career and educational paths followed by program graduates can be found  here .

A few Child Studies alumni have shared about their program experiences and outcomes below, providing additional insight into the types of careers and further studies pursued by program graduates. 

Dan Berman - Fatherhood Services Coordinator, Champions for Children (Applied Professional Track)

“I had initially decided to attend another university, but fell in love with Peabody, Vanderbilt, and the Child Studies program. The program allows for flexibility and individuality, while offering the opportunity to experience all of the top professors and courses that Peabody has to offer. Using the expertise of Dr. (Vicki) Harris, the courses in different programs at Peabody, and the connections that are able to be forged in Nashville, I feel as though I could not have received a more well-rounded and comprehensive learning experience.

"My focus was in Early Childhood Program Development and following my degree I moved to Tampa, Florida where I was the director of a large, non-profit preschool with 225 children and 40 teachers. I currently oversee a program called 'Who’s the Man?!' that helps new fathers bond with their infant children in underprivileged areas. I was recruited to run the program and help build it from scratch, and truly believe my time at Vanderbilt helped me to feel confident I would be successful.

"I attended Boston University for my undergraduate degree and truly loved my four years there. But when anyone asks me where I went to school, I always respond that I went to Vanderbilt and Peabody College, despite only being there for two graduate years. That is the impact that school and everything associated with it had on me and I could not recommend a program more highly for your time in school and beyond.”

AlumnaHannah Clark - Child Life Specialist, Parkland Hospital NICU (Applied Professional Track)  

"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 complemented 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 currently a Certified Child Life Specialist at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, TX, working in a level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I assist in promoting healthy attachment/bonding and positive development in our babies, who are hospitalized for a variety of 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 engrained 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."

AlumnaJoya Hampton - Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology, Emory University (Empirical Research Track)

“After earning my undergraduate degree in Psychology, with a minor in Child Development, I knew that I wanted to go on to a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology, but wanted more time to do research and perhaps take some graduate coursework. The Child Studies program offered me all of the flexibility I needed to do these things. The mentorship I received from the program directors was wonderful, and with their help I was able to matriculate into the doctoral program of my choice! I am now a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Emory University. I study the psychological mechanisms that drive pediatric obesity in children. I am very happy where I am, and the research skills that I learned during my time in the program are undoubtedly helping me as I move through my program!

"I would advise future students to take full advantage of all of the opportunities that the Child Studies program has to offer, because there are so many! Be sure to reach out for mentorship, and do not be afraid to ask questions!“

AlumnaCarolyne Kocot - Early Education Research Analyst, ICF International (Applied Professional Track)

“After undergrad, I knew I was interested in child development, but I was not one hundred percent sure what my niche was in the field. I wanted to pick a program that was flexible enough that I could explore different interests, and small enough that I would be able to work closely with my professors and get the guidance that I needed. I was also drawn to the applied nature of the Child Studies program. The program really pushes students to think critically about what we learn from research/the classroom and to bring that knowledge into the field. Through field placements and directed studies, students can gain hands-on experience at Vanderbilt, in Nashville, or elsewhere.

"I work in Virginia at a consulting company in the early education department. I am currently working on a project that provides and facilitates support to states implementing early learning grants. The project is a great fit for my background and interests. I use the knowledge and experience I gained from my time at Peabody and continue to build upon it every day.”

Francesca Penner Alumni Profiles - Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology, University of Houston (Empirical Research Track) 

"Before Peabody, I had worked for several years at a nonprofit education company after graduating from the University of Chicago with a degree in English. I chose the Child Studies program because I thought it would be an ideal place to connect my experience working in education with coursework and research experience in child development and psychology, which I had become increasingly interested in during my work in school settings. I was interested in the many research and professional opportunities that are offered through the Child Studies program, including the chance to work with leading researchers in clinical psychology, and the program's place within a top school of education.

"During my two years in the program, I completed my research placement in the Stress and Coping lab with Dr. Bruce Compas, helping on the family depression prevention study. Through that placement I gained invaluable experience, mentorship, and insight into my research interests, and I applied to doctoral programs in clinical psychology during my second year in the program. I also gained experience at Peabody as a teaching assistant, and enjoyed getting involved in the campus community through Peabody Graduate Student Association. Peabody truly offered all the opportunities, experiences, and support I hoped it would, and my time in the program without a doubt helped me get to the next step and achieve what I'd set out to do, which was move on to a doctoral program. The program's focus on evidence-based research and practice and its training in active psychology labs helped me gain a necessary background in research, and the ability to take a variety of statistics and psychology courses helped me build up my subject knowledge. Thanks in huge part to the background and advising I gained at Peabody, I am excited to be spending the next few years at the University of Houston studying parent-child relationships and developmental psychopathology." 

Alumna Jessica Siegel - Project Coordinator, Center for Early Childhood Health and Development, NYU (Applied Professional Track)  

"I attended Peabody as an undergraduate and loved every class I took as a Child Development and Cognitive Studies double major. By my senior year I knew for certain that I wanted to continue studying the effects of poverty on children’s development, but I wasn’t sure how I would apply this to my future career. After learning about the Child Studies program and the Poverty and Intervention track, I felt confident that I would thrive with Dr. Harris’s guidance and support and that the program would provide me with the necessary skills and experiences for success in the job market. The program’s emphasis on field work allowed me to gain a comprehensive understanding of how poverty impacts children’s development, from working hands-on with families at a local homeless shelter to learning how policies are formed and implemented at the Tennessee Department of Health. 

"The combination of these real world experiences and the passion and expertise of Peabody professors is what makes the Child Studies program so special. After graduation, I moved to New York City and started a job in NYU Langone’s Center for Early Childhood Health and Development. I work as a Project Coordinator for a program called ParentCorps, which is a school-based intervention for school staff, parents, and children in low-income preschools in New York City. Our curriculum is designed to enhance children’s social, emotional, and behavioral regulation skills, as well as to strengthen the parent-child relationship to promote happier and healthier families. The Child Studies program’s focus on connecting research, policy, and practice completely prepared me for my work, and I recommend this program wholeheartedly!"  

Darren Yeo - Current Student Doctoral Student in Educational Neuroscience, Vanderbilt University (Empirical Research Track) 

"I am originally from Singapore and completed my B.Soc.Sci. in Psychology from National University of Singapore. I then taught in a public elementary school in Singapore for three years, and worked as an author for math textbooks used in Singapore and the US. With an interest in switching to a research career in cognitive psychology focused on how people learn, I applied to the interdisciplinary Child Studies program, so that I could tailor my curriculum to gain relevant research experience, skills, and knowledge to enhance my competitiveness for doctoral programs. During my time in the Child Studies program, I worked in two distinct but complementary labs – Dr. Lisa Fazio’s lab in memory and learning, as well as Dr. Gavin Price’s Cognitive and Educational Neuroscience Lab (CENLAB). Dr. Lisa Fazio’s lab examines how people best learn information, either on their own or in a classroom setting, with a particular focus on math. The CENLAB is interested in the neural correlates of numerical processing and their relationship to math competence. For my Ph.D., I will be continuing at Vanderbilt, working under Dr. Price in the CENLAB. Ultimately, I hope to identify possible interventions that could have an enduring impact on learners at both the behavioral level and neural levels, and bridge the gap in translating extant research findings on effective learning into classroom practice."