"The work requires me to fully invest in these families and through doing so, I begin to love every one of them. This relationship that forms is fueled by my own relationship with God and compassion for doing this work."
Stephanie chose HDFS after a difficult year being in the 'wrong' major that did not fit her skill set. Stephanie wanted a major that would help her find a career where she could help people. HDFS was broad and Stephanie saw it was a perfect fit for her to look for a position that would interest her post-graduation. After graduation, she did not know exactly what she wanted to do with her degree, but felt like she was in the best position she could be. Stephanie took a job after graduation as a Teacher's Assistant at a Community Child Guidance Clinic working with emotionally and mentally disabled children. Although this was not her desired life-long position, Stephanie knew that the skills learned there would benefit her in future positions. Upon hearing about a job opening at Early Head Start through a friend, Stephanie felt underqualified but decided to apply anyways. Stephanie has been at Early Head Start since accepting the position and continues in her education at the University of Saint Joseph's pursuing her Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.
As the Early Head Start parent educator and home visitor, Stephanie lends support to low income and high-risk pregnant women, and children under the age of 3 in the community. As a grant funded program, Early Head Start accepts 12 families at a time, all of which receive one home visit from Stephanie each week. The home visits consist of 1&½ hour parent and child activities to encourage the child's development as well as to support a secure attachment between the child and parents. During these home visits, Stephanie helps the families establish practical goals and to support them through achieving them. Each family is strongly encouraged to participate in weekly playgroups which she plans and facilitates with the help of a socialization assistant. During these parent and child playgroups, the parents engage in a parent group discussion, which Stephanie leads to encourage positive attachments between each parent-child dyad. It is Stephanie's goal to help families as they strive to provide healthy homes, relationships, and a positive environment for growth.
"Don't underestimate the skills that you have acquired through your education, internships, missions, trips, and other jobs and volunteering. Do not be afraid to apply for a job if you think you are underqualified. Highlight the experience you have gained and trust that your personality will go a long way in an interview. And finally, don't be too picky. Sometimes we don't know what our interests are until we give something new a try. Don't hesitate to contact your past professors for advice. Also, Bring your strategies project to your interviews. It may feel a little silly, but it shows the employer something that you've worked hard on."