What makes you a Difference Maker?
I truly strive to make a difference in the lives of children and their families. I’ve been a preschool teacher for seventeen years, and have been involved with children through many different programs including Girl Scouts, youth groups, Sunday School, kid's camp and teaching children's theatre. My biggest passion has become working with children and their families who are experiencing serious health issues through the field of child life. A child life specialist is a pediatric healthcare professional who works with children and families in hospitals and other settings to help them cope with the challenges of hospitalization, illness and disability. They also help in other situations involving children such as disaster relief, for which I received a certification last year. I spent last summer volunteering at Mott Children's Hospital and will do so again this summer, as well as volunteer at North Star Reach, a sleep away camp for children facing serious health issues. I’m also interested in trauma informed care and helping to bring awareness to others who work with children. My ultimate goals are to work in a hospital setting as a child life specialist, help to train others in trauma informed care and assist children in the wake of disaster, both natural and man-made.
Highlight your campus achievements:
I’m the president and founder of the Child Life Student Association, I’m the 2017 Honor Scholar for the Child Life Major, and a member of both the Golden Key International Honor Society and the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Fraternity. I’ve also been working closely with Dean Janosky on bringing the training certification program for Children's Disaster Relief to our campus with the hopes to also help establish a regional coalition for immediate children's disaster response in our area. I’m a SOAR student, have been on the Dean's List, am a CEW scholar and am the recipient of the inaugural Joan Ireland Scholarship.
Highlight your leadership experiences both on and off campus:
As previously mentioned, I’m the president and founder of the Child Life Student Association (CLSA) on campus and I’ve presented many times at the Howell Early Childhood Conference on varying topics, including cooking with kids to incorporating fine arts into classroom curriculum. In addition to teaching and being a student, I’m also a mother and wife, and I own a small baking business. I’m a lead teacher in my classroom and help to oversee and train other staff members and have served as a Girl Scout Troop Leader.
What is your dream career and/or long term life goal?
To make a difference in the lives of children and families who are facing some of life's biggest challenges. Anything I can do to help ease pain, bring joy and help children to adjust after these challenges would be a huge blessing. I’d like to work not only in a hospital setting, but also work with children after disasters and training others to do these same things. I hope to also conduct research within the child life field to help produce more evidence on the amazing benefits to children that the field provides and help the field as a whole to continue to grow and flourish while changing lives. I also hope to train others on trauma-informed care and how children, and society as a whole, will benefit from this point of view.
What was your most defining moment at UM-Dearborn?
I really have two. The first is the reason why I’m here at all, and that was being accepted into the SOAR program. I wouldn’t be here without their support, encouragement and guidance. The other was discovering the idea of trauma informed care, which really changed not only my approach to my students, but my outlook on life. The research done in this area fascinates me and the possibilities to change lives by educating others about it really excites me.