Meet Alisha Saavedra, MA, CCLS

ACLP Bulletin | Winter 2023 | VOL. 41 No. 1

Alisha Saavedra, MA, CCLS
NAME: Alisha Saavedra, MA, CCLS

PRONOUNS: She/Her/Hers

TITLE: Assistant Professor, Director of
Clinical Training

LOCATION: Works at Loma Linda
University in the M.S. Child Life Specialist
Program and lives in the city of San

ROLE ON THE BOARD: President-elect

Tell us a little bit more about your child life interests or passions.
Throughout my career I have had an interest in the clinical training of students and new professionals. I have grown to really appreciate the opportunity to support students as they navigate entering the field. It is a privilege to walk alongside them in their journeys and champion not only their academic, but their personal growth as well. They have been some of my greatest teachers! I also have a passion for DEI and strive to expand my awareness with an other-oriented perspective. Over the past couple of years, with the increased recognition by healthcare leaders that we are living in a racial pandemic, it prompted me to seek opportunities to deepen my own self-reflection and discovery process. I consider myself a lifelong learner and someone who is willing to learn from others. We all have a life story and are worthy of feeling a sense of trust and belonging.

What inspired you to serve as a board member?
Simply said, representation matters. It is important for the communities we serve, the colleagues we welcome into our teams, and the students we educate in our learning spaces to see a reflection of themselves. As I think about the past couple of decades of being in this field, I have not seen anyone who looks like me in a leadership position. As a person of color, I have been privileged to hold space with others who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), students and colleagues, who have shared their thoughts or feelings as they navigate the field of child life. Their collective words and sentiments have sat with me over time. With ACLP’s recent efforts in the area of antiracism and DEI, I was motivated to serve as a board member. During the nomination process, a consistent question I considered was, “Why not me?” I have a great sense of hope for change in the future and value being in collaboration with others and seeing how far our efforts ripple into the future.

What experiences have you had in your career that have prepared you for serving on the Board?
Having held a clinical coordinator role and now as an academician, I bring my experiences and expertise from both lenses. The focus of my university’s mission is community service which has provided me the opportunity to engage in local and global child life work. These experiences have supported my development of project management skills and ability to build relationships with the local and global community as well as clinical partners. I actively engage with processes and procedures as a director of clinical training and have awareness of academic programming while also walking alongside the student experience. This year I reached a milestone of ten years volunteering with the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP). My experience with multiple committee initiatives and my passion for supporting aspiring professionals has contributed to my investment as a board member. My combination of experiences has given me a unique perspective, and I have appreciated working in teams that have diverse skills and knowledge.

What is the Board working on right now that you are most excited for?
When ACLP shared a sneak peek into the new common internship application. I had an opportunity to participate in the early stages of the Internship Readiness Project. With continued feedback from all stakeholders about the need for a revised application, the work group considered bias and other barriers that have been consistently reported as challenges. We are grateful that there will be an opportunity to collect ongoing data in the future to gauge its accessibility and effectiveness and discover how all stakeholders are experiencing the new format.

What is one hope you have for the child life profession and where do you see it in the future?
My hope is that we can strengthen our collaborative relationships to withstand current and future challenges. The field of child life has not been immune to the stresses and pressures that have resulted from the pandemic. This has put a strain on all our stakeholders. I think our best work is done in community with each other. And as a community, I know we have the capacity to work in partnership through open communication and thoughtful approaches to identify solutions in response to the crisis at hand. With challenges, there are growth opportunities for the betterment of the field which directly impacts the students who are in our learning spaces, services we provide to patients and their families, and communities we serve.

How do you take time for self-care? What does self-care look like for you?
For me, self-care, or soul care, needs to be restorative. Being in nature helps to ground me and creative expression also helps when I need to release stress. Creativity can be anything from painting or crafting to trying out a new recipe idea. Recently, I joined a book club, and we are reading a book about burnout, and it has been very encouraging to talk with others about how we navigate the stress cycle. Lastly, I am a firm believer that self-care includes supporting my mental health. I regularly engage in therapy so that I can show up as my best self in my personal and professional relationships.

What is ONE thing you would like the child life community to know about the Board of Directors?
We are a group of dedicated volunteers who have various talents and interests. While each of us have our own focus area within child life, we want to hear from you! We learn and grow when we have opportunities to engage with various members and learn about their questions, concerns, and hopes.