Featured Alum: Abby (Graham) Valenti, ’15
Abby is a Certified Child Life Specialist at Golisano Children’s hospital. She and her husband recently welcomed their first baby in December 2022. They are loving this new chapter in life watching her grow into such a fun little lady!
What is your current position and what do you find the most fulfilling about it?
I am a Certified Child Life specialist at Golisano Children’s hospital- I work in both the Pediatric Surgical Center and Pediatric Emergency department and have worked there for almost 8 years. The most fulfilling part of my job is collaborating with the medical team to ensure that we are providing the best patient and family centered care. The best part is watching patients that arrive to an anxiety provoking medical situation come out feeling proud of themselves.
Please describe your path from SUNY Brockport to your current position. What was the most valuable lesson you learned while at SUNY Brockport?
At SUNY Brockport I combined my studies in Psychology with Arts for Children and minored in Dance. With these majors, I was able to pick and choose courses that fit my professional goals. I knew coming into college that I wanted to become a Child Life specialist- however very few colleges offer this as a major. I also was able to find volunteer opportunities to build my experience working with children in and outside of the hospital setting. One of those volunteering opportunities was within the Child Life department at Golisano Children’s hospital, from there I gained Practicum experience then went on to complete my Child Life internship.
After completing my internship with the Child Life department, I was able to secure a full-time position within Golisano Children’s Hospital pediatric emergency department. After a few years of working evenings in the Pediatric Emergency department, I now split my time between the Pediatric Surgical Center and Pediatric Emergency Department. I think a major valuable lesson that I learned at SUNY Brockport was being able to prioritize, not only with my studies but with balancing volunteer and work commitments while in school. In my role as a Child Life specialist, I am constantly assessing and prioritizing my patients, workflow and staff education.
What is your favorite memory from your time at SUNY Brockport?
My favorite memories from SUNY Brockport mainly include meeting amazing people from different backgrounds and being a part of several different groups within Brockport’s community from the department of Psychology, Dance and Arts for Children.
What advice would you give to current SUNY Brockport students? Any special advice for our psychology majors?
Don’t wait to put what you are learning in your courses into real life practice- I found that when I was able to apply the content that I was learning in my courses to my goals as a professional after graduation I was able to build such strong connections that helped make going into my professional role more seamless.
Can you describe an obstacle you faced in your career so far (academic or professional)? How did you overcome or manage?
A major obstacle that I have faced in my professional life is learning ways to maintain a healthy work/life balance. In many careers that involve an educational background of Psychology, individuals are often in the field of helping people. In these roles, it is so easy to forget about our own well-being when our days are filled with looking out for the well-beings of our patients and families.