Graduate Student Spotlight: Abigail Davis, MS Child Life

For most graduate students at the University of Charleston, SC, summertime does not necessarily mean “time off” from their studies. Students who are not taking summer courses are often enrolled in internships, travelling for professional development, or continuing their ongoing research. Incoming second year MS Child Life student, Abigail Davis, has accepted a prestigious offer through Connect 123 in Cape Town, South Africa, where she will gain first-hand experience with other child life specialists at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Read more about the MS Child Life program and Abigail’s incredible opportunity in her recent blog post below!

I am a first year graduate student in the Master of Science in Child Life program at the University of Charleston, SC. My academic and clinical coursework and training are focused on becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist, a healthcare professional who will work with children and families with chronic or episodic healthcare needs.        

I have recently been accepted into the Connect 123 program in Cape Town, South Africa. While in Cape Town, I will be completing an international Child Life practicum at the Red Cross Children’s hospital. As an undergraduate student, I completed a medical mission trip to rural areas in Belize, and this led to my commitment to improving the psychosocial care for children across the world facing healthcare challenges. The Connect 123 program will provide a unique learning experience giving me the opportunity to be involved in the Red Cross Children’s Hospital healthcare team, and work with children and families from diverse cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. I am excited for the opportunity to use the educational and applied skills learned through my program in a new country, experiencing intervention planning and delivery working within a non-western health care facility.

Through my graduate education in developmental, play, and stress and coping theories I believe I can work effectively to address the psychosocial effects of hospitalization in children and families, and benefit from the close mentorship of a senior child life specialist and former president of the child life national organization. Through my graduate training, I have witnessed, firsthand how play and expressive arts can address the fears of children facing hospitalization and medical procedures. I have observed our MUSC Child Life Specialists use play and preparation to address those fears, promote normal development, and improve the hospital experience for the child. I have developed the skills to assess children’s developmental levels and create developmentally appropriate interventions that I will utilize within the Connect 123 program.

I look forward to immersing myself in a new culture, and learning how experienced Child Life Specialists use their skills with children from other cultures. Although I have traveled extensively prior to graduate school, I am extremely interested in applying my graduate education and skills to the international health care setting, Cape Town’s Red Cross Children’s Hospital. I believe this opportunity will give me a unique experience in working with a CCLS and children within a different country and broaden my scope of experiences and understanding of culturally competent child life intervention and advocacy. I am confident my graduate education and training and positive energy can contribute to the 123 connect program and health care team.


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