Erin Morris Gris '01
- Graduated from the Child Development program in 2001
- Earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada
In what field did you work prior to coming to SLC to study Child Development?
Teacher at a Montessori school.
Why did you choose Sarah Lawrence for graduate school? Why Child Development?
First of all, SLC had an excellent reputation for “self guided” learning, and secondly, I appreciated the opportunity to tailor the education experience to my needs. My original goal was to return to Canada and open up my own Montessori school. Also, as a foreign student I received financial aid which enabled me to attend.
How did your course work prepare you for your fieldwork and eventual career?
My original goal was to finish my master’s and return to Canada to open up my own Montessori school. Once enrolled at SLC, I was encouraged to “think outside the box,” which lead me to volunteer at Mount Sinai Hospital in the pediatric units. Because of this my entire focus changed, and with the support of Barbara Schecter, I started on the path to becoming a Child Life Specialist
Describe your experience working at the Early Childhood Center and Child Development Institute.
My experience working at the Early Childhood Center was invaluable. It was here that I really honed in on my ability to observe children.
Where were your fieldwork assignments? What type of skills/knowledge did you acquire through your fieldwork, which have aided you in your professional life?
My fieldwork assignments were at the ECC and Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC. As stated above, I was given permission to complete my field work volunteering in the Child Life Program, which eventually led to completing an internship program and becoming certified as a Child Life Specialist
What was the focus of your MA thesis?
Nurturing the psychological development of children in a hospital setting.
Where have you worked, and what have you worked on, since graduating?
Since graduating, I have worked in several children’s hospitals in the New York area as a child Life Specialist with various populations. In between child life jobs, I was a director of a daycare for an organization called Hour Children. The daycare I ran was for children who had been born while their mothers were still incarcerated. The babies then lived with their mothers in the prison nursery and, when the mothers were released, came to our program.
Do you intend to pursue another degree or explore certification options?
My main focus and passion remain medically fragile children but after having children of my own I see myself leaning towards midwifery and mothers’ birthing rights.
Who at SLC would you consider your role model, or who would you consider most inspirational, and why?
Without a doubt, Barbara Schecter. From my very first day at SLC, Barbara took a very personal interest and was determined to make my time at SLC productive and successful. Early on I struggled with assignments and Barbara spent the time needed to guide me and push me to work hard and gain confidence in my abilities. It is because of Barbara's trust that I was able to move forward and use my master’s in Child Development to become a Child Life Specialist—a position that enabled me to help countless hospitalized children and their families.