Originally from a small town near Salem, Massachusetts, Caroline Hargrave put her Wheelock education to work more than 7,000 miles away in Cape Town, South Africa. She was the director of the pilot Connect-123 child life volunteer program at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital.
In her work at the hospital, Caroline advocated for the best possible care for children and their caregivers. Working with colleagues from different backgrounds helped her expand her understanding of the use of child life in different cultural contexts.
"One of the greatest joys working as a child life specialist has been to witness the sheer resiliency of children and families facing some of the most trying of life's struggles," Caroline said. "I am so often humbled by this power which continues to move and inspire me."
Caroline became a child life specialist because she wanted a career that aligned with her values. She chose Wheelock not only for our renowned child life program, but also for Wheelock's overarching mission. "Improving the lives of families and children is the purest of aspirations," Caroline remarked. "There was nothing I wanted more than a school that holds in the highest regard the work that I wanted to do."
While at Wheelock, Caroline was able to gain international experience as part of her coursework. She participated in Wheelock's Hospitalized Child in England program, where she was able to learn from British professionals and get first-hand experience in a health care system outside of the United States. "This was valuable practice for what it would be like as an outsider from another culture and country," she said.
This experience helped Caroline transition to her position in South Africa. "It gave me the courage to pursue my career abroad," she said. Faced with limited resources, she learned "a great deal about coordination of program development, flexibility, and being creative with the resources that we have."
"Working in South Africa gave me a broader perspective of the need and demand for child life services," she said. "I gained first-hand insight into the potential for child life to greatly improve the medical care for the children of South Africa and beyond."