Sara Black and Cheyenne Grant are in the midst of completing their M.A. Child and Adolescent Development program (CHAD) degree at San José State University (SJSU) and expect to graduate in Spring 2024. We reached out to Sara and Cheyenne to learn more about their experience in the program and why they choose SJSU to pursue their CHAD degree.
Sara’s desire to pursue a CHAD degree stemmed from wanting to fortify her competency when she enters the job market. She spoke to me about how the CHAD program has been preparing her: “I am learning so much and I am super engaged in the content being taught. Both my professors and my cohort have been very supportive and fun to learn with. I couldn’t ask for a better academic environment.”
Sara said there were various reasons for selecting SJSU among other universities. Proximity to family was important, which is why Sara decided to look in her own backyard and chose SJSU. This felt like the right decision for Sara because she felt like belonged in the program since day one, “SJSU stood out to me as an institution that takes pride in its students and wants to support them in every way. When I got my acceptance letter, it was personalized, which told me that the graduate coordinator took the time to write a welcoming letter to every applicant that was accepted to the program. This made me excited to join the CHAD program at SJSU because I felt that I would be seen and recognized not only as a student, but as a person. This program gave me a sense of belonging before I even stepped foot on campus, which I really valued in my decision-making.”
Sara hopes to become a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) after graduation where she will work with children and families in hospitals to prepare them for procedures, provide therapeutic play, and to overall decrease their experienced stress. Her advice for prospective students is to “build relationships with others in the field (i.e. professors, students, staff). This really helps when you want to learn more about working in the field of child development, and having a professional support system you can lean on.” Sara ended by highlighting how supportive and kind the professors have been in the first year of the program.
For Cheyenne Grant, her desire to pursue a CHAD degree stemmed from her undergraduate education. Her passion in her undergraduate project “The Influence of Authoritarian Parenting on the Student-Teacher Relationship,” is what ignited her desire to attend graduate school. The CHAD program at SJSU stood out to Cheyenne because it was in line with her interests and because of SJSU Professor, Dr. Nadia Sorkhab’s work on parental influences on development.
The CHAD program provided Cheyenne numerous research, academia, and community engagement opportunities. Cheyenne worked for the Center for District Innovation and Leadership in Early Education (DIAL-EE) to review the visibility of California’s universal preschool program. She also worked as a Project Assistant with SJSU’s Healthy Development Community Clinic under Dr. Cara Maffini where she hosted community events and disseminated health information.
On how SJSU has transformed her professional and personal life, Cheyenne says, “I am genuinely surprised and elated by the changes I’ve seen in my life, both personally and professionally. This program unexpectedly initiated a deeper exploration of my identity, which has greatly reframed how I see myself. As a young professional, I was able to develop a supportive network with my professors and peers that felt empowering, impactful, and educational.”
The CHAD program at SJSU is providing a well-rounded education and Cheyenne and Sara are a testament to that. We can’t wait to see them make a difference in their communities.