Child Life Student Spotlight: Shereé

Name: Shereé Martin

Degree and Graduation Year:  MS in Human Development and Family Science, with a concentration in Child Life, class of May 2024. 

Tell us about your experience in your program thus far?
I am enjoying being a part of this graduate program. The professors and chairpersons actively show that they care about the students and want us to understand all the information they teach in class. I have built relationships with every cohort member and program member as well. 

Tell us about your hobbies and involvement at ECU? 
As a graduate student new at ECU, I have been growing networks and attending different conferences and events that relate to Diversity, Black Excellence, and Child Advocacy. I am apart of the Child Life Student Association and hope to become a part of other organizations on campus. I have worked as a research assistant for a Human Development and Family Science professor researching the impact of after-school programming for minority youth as well as grant funding to assist minorities in Pitt County. I am also an assistant to Dr. Sharon Ballard where I am working to help build a new program here at ECU that provides resources for undergraduate student-parents. 

Some of my hobbies include listening to podcasts, working out, cooking, and enjoying the pleasures of being a new aunt.

What brought you to ECU?
I grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and received my undergraduate degree in Maryland. While seeking my Master’s degree, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to go out of state while still being semi-close to home. Child Life is an ever-growing field, so only a few universities offer the Child Life program, and since the prestigious ECU does, it was a perfect opportunity for me! I knew from the interview with the program directors that I would love it here. During my interview, I asked about the diversity within the faculty, and I was elated to hear that Human Development and Family Science is the most diverse program at ECU.  

Why do you want to enter the field of Child Life?
My interest in the Child Life profession stems from my love for working with children, my understanding of the immense impact that a Child Life Specialist can have on a patient and their family, and the motivation to help those who are in need/seek advocacy. I have always wanted to surround my work with children, and the Child Life profession perfectly balances nursing and social work. The work of a Child Life Professional has been proven to increase a child’s recovery rate, decrease the amount of stress the family has, and helps the patient have less fear of medical experiences. Since being introduced to this field, I have found happiness in the required work and volunteering. My love for helping individuals motivates me to become the best Certified Child Life Specialist, especially being one of the few African-Americans in the field.

Tell us about your upcoming internship or where you hope to intern?
The Child Life profession requires students to do a practicum to become certified. I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a Summer Practicum student at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Florida. I choose this hospital to build my diversity skills since I plan to travel and advocate for all children and families. Orlando has a diverse population, and I look forward to working with the Child Life team there!

What is your favorite aspect of Child Life?
Play is the most prominent aspect that I love about child life. Play is the universal form of expression for children and encompasses the essential elements of childhood. The importance of play in the hospital setting is to give patients a sense of normalcy within the medical environment. My favorite part of Child Life is working closely with a variety of children, helping these children not only in a medical way but socio-emotionally, and embracing my inner child for the benefit of the child.

Tell us about your favorite Child Life course or professor(s)?
In my first semester in the program, I took a course taught by Dr. Priti Desai called Child Life in a Healthcare Setting. This class gave me, in great detail, an insight into the Child Life professions and the expectations of a Certified Child Life Specialist. The content of this course allowed me to use past knowledge, new knowledge acquired, and my creative skills to understand how to be a competent Child Life Specialist. Dr. Desai did a lovely job presenting all content and has significantly impacted the Child Life Profession. Another course I consider my favorite is one  I am currently taking with Dr. Archana Hegde called d Human Development Part I. I love this course because we talk about fundamental life topics and use theory/other knowledge to facilitate conversation to look at matters from different points of view. Dr. Hegde does a great job making herself available to talk to students outside of class, showing her students that she cares about their perspectives and is enthusiastic about the course, which makes her students very interested.  

What kind of setting or future job do you hope to have upon graduation?
Upon graduation, I strive to work in a hospital in North Carolina or Virginia. I would love to stay in North Carolina and continue to build networks within the state. Upon graduation, I will intern at a hospital while also working to become certified in the Child Life profession.

Anything else you’d like to share about yourself or your passion for Child Life?
One of my favorite verses to live by is: “The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that is coming” -Romans 8:18. My personal qualities include having a positive attitude toward life, high energy, profound listening skills, embracing my inner child, and an active learner of American Sign Language. A positive attitude is essential to being a future child life specialist and child life practicum student because it is a part of the job to be optimistic and bring joy into a room that is deemed stressful/scary. High energy is another part of having positive energy; when I walk into a room, my energy radiates. Another career goal is to become a birthing and postpartum doula. I am fascinated with the beauty of an expecting mother and have grown interested in educating mothers on natural ways to give birth. I also understand the post-effect of having a baby, so being a support system for the new mother is essential. Lastly, I aspire to start a non-profit to include aspects of Child Life,  where musical elements will be introduced to hospitalized children or those in stressful situations to serve as an outlet. 

What words of advice do you have for prospective and/or currents students? 
To the prospective students of this program: Child Life is rewarding because of the impact you will make on many children and their family’s lives. If you feel it in your heart or gut to try it, I say go for it!
To the Current Students in this program: We are halfway through and one step closer to getting that beautiful degree. Keep pursuing what you are passionate about, and never give up!