Q&A with Intern Rachel Traxler

Q: Tell me a little about yourself, Rachel.

A: I am currently a senior at Western Michigan University graduating
this spring with my bachelor’s in Child and Family Development. I also started
my master’s degree through the Accelerated Child Life Program here at WMU and
will be continuing after graduation. In addition to being involved at the
Center, I am also a Child Life Student at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and a
Make-A-Wish volunteer.

Q: What do you hope to do with your degree?

A: I hope to pursue a career as a Certified Child Life
Specialist.

Q: That’s great! What do you like to do when you have free time from school and work?

A: I love spending time outdoors! I could be hiking, going
to the beach or camping, I love it all.

Q: So how did you get involved with the Center?

A: I was introduced to the center through the Child Life Club at WMU, I first volunteered during morning programs and summer camps then started my internship.

Q: And how long have you been volunteering/interning here?

A: I started volunteering January of 2020, completed my
internship this past fall and am now back to volunteering!

Q: What have you enjoyed the most about being an intern at the Center?

A: I enjoyed many things about being an intern at the
Center. I loved being able to build relationships with member families, staff
and the other volunteers, as well as the children. I also had a lot of
independence and impact on the Little Tot Program which gave me confidence in
my work that I had a positive impact on the children and the Center.

Q: Is there anything you have learned from being a Program Intern?

A: I learned quite a bit actually! I learned to select developmentally appropriate activities for children, having meaningful conversations and connections with parents, staff and children and also writing and executing developmentally appropriate lesson plans. In addition to these skills, I truly understood how the Children’s Healing Center has an overall positive impact with families facing medical challenges, I am so grateful to be a part of the Center.

Can you give an example of something that you did while interning or a memory of interacting with the children?

A: We had a Career Week at the Center and I got to share
with the children my dream of becoming a Child Life Specialist. I explained to
them that my job would be working and playing with children and their families
in the hospital. One of the Little Tot’s exclaimed, “Ooo I love that!” This
made me happy as I was worried, I would lose their interest with my not so
familiar career choice… although I knew some of them might have had previous
experiences with a Child Life Specialist.

Q: How will interning here at the Center help you in your career path as a Child Life Specialist?

A: The Program Intern role provided me with meaningful
experiences and skills that will help me in my career. Some of those skills
include connecting with children in stressful situations, understanding
children at a developmentally appropriate level, and knowing how medical
trauma/diagnosis can impact a child and their family.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to say about the Center or your experience?

A: I would like to say I am so grateful for the creation and impact the Children’s Healing Center has on the community. For member families, the Center is an escape that provides light in challenging times. The unique atmosphere creates a safe place for families and children to connect on a meaningful level. Again, I am so grateful for my contribution and continuous involvement within the Center, it will and has provided me with many skills and lessons that have and continue to prepare me for my professional and personal life.