Today we sat down with second-year master’s student Allison Campbell to talk about her experience in the Master’s in Child Life degree program at the College of Charleston.
What was your graduate program of choice at CofC and expected year of graduation?
- “Master of Science in Child Life, 2024.”
Please tell us about your undergraduate background and how it led to you wanting to pursue a master’s degree at the College of Charleston.
- “I received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of South Carolina. I knew that I had wanted to pursue Child Life from my volunteer work during undergrad and had heard high praise about the MSCL program at the College of Charleston.”
What do you consider to be the standout features of this graduate program and what do you think sets it apart from similar programs at other schools?
- “The Master of Science in Child Life program is dedicated to training future child life specialists skills they need to support children and families experiencing hospitalization or other stressful life events. The key features of our program include the smaller cohort size, student mentorship, integrated practicum with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), relationships with community partners, and the opportunity for programming abroad.”
What was your favorite experience or project during your time in the program? What did you learn about the subject and what did it teach you about how to be a professional in this field?
- “My favorite experience throughout my time in the program is my practicum at MUSC Shawn Jenkin’s Children’s Hospital. I was able to interact with patients by completing independent bedside play activities and facilitating play activities and events in the Child Life Atrium for patients and families. I also had the opportunity to observe the daily roles of a Certified Child Life Specialist providing procedural and play-based interventions for patients and families in a variety of both inpatient and outpatient settings. My practicum experience not only allowed me to have valuable interactions with children and families in the hospital, but it also prepared me for a child life internship.”
What was your favorite class and why was it so special to you?
- “My favorite class was Therapeutic Play for Child Life Specialists because we were able to perform play activities for the first part of the class and then learn about why play is beneficial for helping children cope with the hospital. Our professor, a CCLS at MUSC, always facilitated creative activities that were both enjoyable as well as thought-provoking for how the activities could be used as tools in our future professions.”
Please tell us about a mentor you had during your time in the program and the impact they had on your education.
- “Our program has an integrated mentorship style between the first and second-year students within the program, where each student is assigned a one-to-one mentor. This mentorship was vital for me to acclimate to the demands of the program and to help me navigate any challenges I faced along the way. The smaller size cohort also creates an atmosphere of family where we always can turn to our friends for guidance and encouragement. The friendships I have made in graduate school have been the most valuable relationships in my whole academic career.”
What external organizations or field professionals did you work or learn with during your time in the program? Can you please tell us about this experience and what you took away from it?
- “Our program has a number of community partners where our students are employed, complete internships, or volunteer. These include organizations that support children and families experiencing stressful life events, bereavement, and complex medical conditions. Camp Happy Days, the Lonon Foundations, Bridges of Hope, Hands of Hope, and Camp Rise Above are some of the few community partners that we have a relationship with. These experiences were invaluable for our students to gain experience with different populations of children and families to prepare us for internship and a job as a child life specialist.”
Tell us about your career pathway. Please provide details about your current role or any significant achievements in your field.
- “I am currently a second-year graduate student in the MSCL program and I also work as a graduate assistant for the Graduate School at the College of Charleston. I have secured a child life internship for the spring semester and will graduate with my master’s degree after completion of my internship. Certified Child Life Specialists are valuable members of the healthcare team and utilize play and procedural preparation and support to help children and families cope with hospitalization, illness, and disability.”
How do you feel your education at the College of Charleston has contributed to your career success?
- “The MSCL program has taught me the knowledge and skills that I need to be a successful CCLS and has made the journey to becoming a child life specialist so special. The friendships, mentorship, and connections I have gained throughout my graduate school career have given me a toolkit to bring with me in my future career. I could not imagine myself going through this experience any other way than with the MSCL program at the College of Charleston.”
Would you recommend the College of Charleston to others considering this degree program? If so, why should they choose our program over others?
- “Absolutely yes! Our program is incredible and the breadth of knowledge and support you receive from the professors, supervisors, and program director is amazing. They truly invest in their students and want each and every one of us to succeed!”
Do you have any other advice for prospective students considering your field of work?
- “It may not always be easy, but it is so worth it. The children and families whose hearts you will touch and whose stories you will influence will make the journey all worth it. You are so valuable and have a place in this field!”
Are there any specific ways you would like to see the College of Charleston engage with its alumni or graduate student community?
- “I would love to see more engagement with other programs and events on campus!”