Elizabeth Anderson, Certified Child Life Specialist
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Wisconsin and moved to Maryland when I was 8 years old, where I have been ever since.
Why did you choose East Carolina University, and then also why child life as a major?
I chose East Carolina because of my major. I found out about the field of child life when I was in high school and researched schools that had the program. I visited ECU and was absolutely blown away by the campus, especially the College of Human Ecology. I knew without a doubt during that visit that ECU was where I wanted to go.
Tell me about your current job and any positions that lead you to where you are now.
I am currently a certified child life specialist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. Children’s National is a 303-bed freestanding children’s hospital. I work on the Hematology/Oncology Unit, helping patients and families coping with illnesses like cancer, sickle cell disease, and other blood disorders, as well as children undergoing bone marrow transplants. The child life department consists of 17 certified child life specialists in several areas of the hospital, both inpatient and outpatient. Prior to working at Children’s National, I completed a year-long child life fellowship at Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children. I did my child life internship at Duke Children’s Hospital and Health Center in Durham, NC, and my child life practicum at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, which is now Vidant, in Greenville, NC.
What lessons did you learn at ECU that you think helped to shape your work or yourself?
I learned so many lessons at ECU! I learned that hard work always pays off in the end. I learned that even when discouraged, you have to keep moving forward to achieve your goals. I learned that it’s okay to ask for help. I learned how to effectively work and prosper in a team setting. Most importantly, I learned just how passionate I am about the field of child life and I continue to carry that passion with me every single day. All of these things I use every day in my job!
What was your favorite class in your major?
My favorite class in my major was The Hospitalized Child. It allowed me to apply all the information I had learned in previous classes about normally developing children to my understanding of how children react to hospital experiences. It really prepared me for what I would see and experience once in the hospital setting.
Do you have a professor that you look back on fondly?
Dr. Desai was not only my professor, she was also my advisor. She was always available when I needed advice or feedback and was very supportive of all her students. I would not be where I am today without her help and guidance!
What motivates you in your job, and how does your education at ECU relate to that?
One of the things that motivates me the most in my job is that I can look back to 10 years ago when I first found out about child life and really see how far I have come. I fought hard to be where I am today. There are so many different factors that led me to where I am now and ECU plays a major role in that. I truly believe part of the reason that I thrive at what I do is in thanks to the great education and training I received while attending East Carolina.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is knowing that every day I’m helping to make a child’s experience at the hospital a little bit better. It’s incredibly rewarding to witness a procedure or check in with a patient and know that you have made a difference in their ability to understand and cope with being in the hospital.
Any words of wisdom to current students at ECU or particularly those in the College of Human Ecology?
Stay focused on your goals and don’t give up on what you really love! Put in the hard work and effort required of you and it will all be worth it in the end. You are all studying to work in careers to help and support others, which is one of the greatest things you can do with your life. Good luck!