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San Francisco, California
Dual-Degree Undergraduate Student: Child Development and Family Studies & Puppetry and Creative Dramatics
Alexandra Ashworth started her first semester at WVU as a nursing major. As she progressed through her courses, she found out that nursing wasn’t the best fit for her and started to search for new opportunities.
“I’ve always loved children and I’ve always loved health care. I’m passionate about serving others,” Ashworth said. “I soon realized after my first semester that nursing wasn’t for me, but I still wanted to be in a career that utilizes my passions.”
One day, she saw an advertisement for Child Life Specialist Month. Curious about what that was, Ashworth looked into it. When she searched the internet for more information, Ashworth fell in love with the career and chose to be a child development and family studies major in pursuit of this path.
A child life specialist is a healthcare professional who specializes in working with children and families in hospital settings. Child life specialists help families work through illnesses, disabilities and changes in hospitalization.
During her search, Ashworth found that many child life specialists utilize puppets while they work. Having a background in dance, Ashworth was intrigued. She thought that adding a major in puppetry and creative dramatics through the WVU College of Creative Arts would expand her skillset as a future child life specialist.
“I’ve never done puppetry prior to coming to WVU, and I have only done dance,” Ashworth said. “Although comfortable on stage, I had no experience with acting or puppets. But I at least wanted to try it out and see where it took me.”
A few years later, Ashworth has had numerous learning opportunities outside of her coursework, including observations for her child development and family studies courses, and rehearsals and performances to hone her craft as a puppeteer.
“I couldn’t be happier – I love both of my majors very much,” Ashworth said.
A normal day in Ashworth’s life as a student usually reflects a balance between her majors. This past semester, Ashworth started most of her days going to infant observations, followed by her puppet manipulation class. After that, she went to a child development and family studies lecture and finished the day with rehearsals for upcoming shows.
“I get a good balance between puppets and babies and it’s so fun,” Ashworth said.
Early in the spring semester, Ashworth was a puppeteer in the production, The Magic Flute. She brought life to multiple characters, translating her work in the classroom to the stage.
After graduation, Ashworth would like to continue her education by earning a master’s degree in child life and working in a pediatric hospital. Later in life, she would like to earn her doctorate and become a professor.
“I would love to start more child life programs because there aren’t very many,” Ashworth said. “It’s a very niche field where there isn’t a lot of program opportunities, but it’s a growing field and I’d love to be a part of it.”