My gratitude for receiving the Association of Child Life Professionals’ (ACLP) Diversity Scholarship extends beyond financial gain. The existence of this scholarship is an affirmation that the child life field is working towards diversity in its workforce, which is a key part in addressing the healthcare disparities of an increasingly diverse population. Through this scholarship, those who face unique barriers due to their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity, among many others, are better equipped to attain the education and training needed to be child life specialists. In a paper by Wilbur, Snyder, Essary, Reddy, Will, and Saxon (2020) they stated that, “increasing diversity in the healthcare workforce is essential in the provision of culturally responsive care, expanding healthcare access, and enriching the pool of leaders and policymakers to meet the needs of a diverse society.” We know that actions such as this scholarship is responsive to what patients and families need and I am optimistic to see the ACLP take steps in this direction.
Like many others who are in this field, my path to internship took considerable time and enormous effort. As fulfilling as it is to be in this career path, the education and training necessary to become a Certified Child Life Specialist requires perseverance and financial sacrifices. In the final leg of my M.S. in Child Life, Administration, and Family Collaboration at Towson University, I was faced with the stressors of moving and acclimating to a new city. I was beyond elated to accept my Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital’s Child Life Internship but was also aggrieved by the financial reality of this amazing learning experience.
I am immensely grateful to have the ACLP Diversity Scholarship as I am able to concentrate on learning child life skills at this monumental time of my career. I can be completely focused when I assess the coping of a 3-year-old who is about to have a dressing change. I can be emotionally present when I provide procedure support for an adolescent who is undergoing a forensic medical exam. And I can be all hands on deck when I assist a school-aged child in finding the “best dinosaur sticker” for their therapeutic art project. Without this scholarship, a part of me would always be clouded by the worry of balancing my books. I am happy to say that I have been able to concentrate on honing the skills that I need so that I can be the best child life specialist that I aspire to be.
As a Filipino-American, an immigrant, and a person raised in a single-parent household, I feel validated by this scholarship which supports candidates such as myself through such a challenging part of our career. I hope that we, as a unified child life field, can continue taking more steps and moving towards equity, inclusion, and diversity.
Wilbur, K., Snyder, C., Essary, A. C., Reddy, S., Will, K. K., & Saxon, M. (2020). Developing workforce diversity in the health professions: A social justice perspective. Health Professions Education. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hpe.2020.01.002