First let me say how excited I am to be sharing this journey with all of my family and other loved ones! I have waited four years for what I am about to begin...excited does not even begin to describe how I feel! For those of you who do not know, I will begin interning with the Duke Children's Hospital Child and Adolescent Life program beginning January 10th and will continue full time through the end of April. Child life programs provide an extra support for patients and their families while they are in the healthcare environment. As child life specialists, our job is to advocate for the best interests of the patient and family, provide preparation for procedures, offer an alternate focus during procedures, assist in the bereavement process when necessary, and much more, all the while promoting normal development of the patient. If you would like to understand this career field a little better, please visit this link to view a short clip of a day in the life of a child life specialist: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/33491735/vp/40313468#40313468. I am more than passionate for this career field...which started when I was a high school senior. In Wilson Co., NC high school seniors are expected to complete a senior project. I was in AP English at the time and was strongly encouraged by my teacher to branch out and implement a project that would impact more than just myself. My thoughts immediately shifted to my older brother, who has experienced numerous hospitalizations throughout his lifetime. I decided that I would plan a project in the hopes of making a difference at Duke. I teamed up with a child life specialist at Duke Children's and knew right away that I wanted to pursue that career. Thankfully East Carolina University (45 minutes from my home) offered child life as a degree program-one of the few, if not the only in NC. I was accepted into the major in the spring of 2007 and have been faithfully pursuing it ever since.
This year has been a turning point in my education...I have been preparing for these opportunities since my sophomore year. I recently completed a 120 hour practicum with the WakeMed child life program while also pursuing an internship. For those of you who were placed in an internship by a professor or advisor...be thankful. I spent half of my summer and what seemed like every waking moment from August 25th-September 5th completing applications, collecting recommendation letters, etc. in preparation for sending out internship application packets. Although I knew how much work I put into my academics and every other aspect of the packets I sent off (a total of 8), I knew that the decision was ultimately in God's hands. I took extra time to place a small label inside the packets saying "not my will Lord, but yours be done." Little did I know how much I would be tested on that statement of faith. I was able to obtain five interviews (first phone interviews, then on-site) and became a finalist for three of them. I was accepted at Duke right away, but was still waiting to hear from two other hospitals, one of them being my top choice. A couple of days after the initial offer from Duke, I received an offer from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and found out that my top choice was offered to the other finalist. I was disappointed at first, but after waiting two weeks to hear after many of the other ECU child life students already had their placements, I was simply happy to know that I had one and I would be graduating in May. It was a difficult decision to make, but I ultimately felt that my heart was leading me to Duke. Perhaps it was the fact that they offered to me first...I'm not sure. But I do know that God was a major part in the decision, because he has paved the way for me...I have a place to live with a family friend which is a MAJOR concern when considering the lack of safety precautions and astronomical rent rates in the Durham area. After making the decision, my mom pointed out to me that both sites who ultimately offered an internship to me were the only two hospitals out of the eight that I applied to which my brother received treatment in.
In preparation for beginning the internship on January 10th (less than two weeks away), I am moving out of my Greenville apartment on Friday! I am not a fan of moving...especially this move as it closes a huge chapter of my life. I will no longer be walking to Wright Place for lunch or practically living in the Rivers building. I won't be participating in the Polar Bear Plunge, going to ECU baseball games, or working with my fellow ECU Ambassadors. Although these realizations bring many emotions to the surface, I know that I am embarking on the opportunity of a lifetime. I have the awesome opportunity and responsibility to impact the lives of pediatric patients and their families...and I cannot wait!