A Life-Altering Experience

Jackie Shanley, Former Intern - Children's National Hospital
Undergrad: Educational Studies/Public Health at The Catholic University of America
Graduate: Masters of Child Life at Bank Street College of Education

Tell us a little bit about your Child Life journey:
Prior to my internship at Seacrest Studios, I participated in the Connect 123 Child Life Practicum in Cape Town, South Africa. During my final semester of college, I completed the Seacrest Studios Internship at Children's National and graduated from The Catholic University of America in the spring of 2022.

Although I was interested in pursuing a career as a Child Life Specialist prior to my internship at Seacrest Studios, my passion only deepened throughout my experience there. During my time at the studio, I worked closely with the studio and Certified Child Life Specialist, Becca Wagner (DJ Becca Boo), to learn more about how she integrated her child life skills into her daily work. I discovered how child development theory informed the games we created for the channel and how patient visits in the studio could transform into collaborative therapeutic experiences, greatly impacting patient coping during their hospitalization.

In the Fall of 2022, I began my Masters at Bank Street College of Education. In the Fall of 2023, I completed my 600-hour Child Life Internship at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, where I was privileged to witness the opening of their Seacrest Studios and participate in the opening festivities! During my internship, I had the opportunity to bring one of my patients to the studio, which felt like a beautiful full-circle moment. I have now completed my Child Life Internship and accepted my first job as a Child Life Specialist at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore and will be graduating from Bank Street College of Education in the spring.

What was your favorite part of interning in Seacrest Studios at Children’s National?
I loved everything about my internship at Seacrest Studios at Children’s National. However, I think my favorite memory was working with one patient. This patient loved to come down to the studio for dance parties and always tuned into our game shows! She could light up any room she walked into, and I was very lucky to get to interview her for our patient spotlight which was featured on the Ryan Seacrest Foundation Instagram!

You had a signature costume during your internship... tell us about it!
I became quite known for the shark costume during my time at the DC studio! My intern group loved playing Just Dance for the channel and we always took it upon ourselves to make it as engaging for our patients as possible, which of course meant using every costume and prop imaginable. The shark costume in the studio quickly became my signature look and I took the opportunity to wear it even after Just Dance was over, sometimes while delivering prizes after Bingo. I remember the father of a patient and several nurses telling me how much they loved seeing a shark walking around the hospital, and getting any chance to make people smile was worth how hot the costume was!

What is one thing you think all students should know about Seacrest Studios?
I believe all students, especially those interested in Child Life, should recognize the transferability of the skills they will gain from a Seacrest Studios Internship. When I started my internship, I had a passion for working with kids but no experience in anything involving technology. The knowledge I acquired in audio and video editing, as well as graphic design, has proven invaluable in my role as a Child Life Intern and enhances your marketability in your professional career. Beyond the tech realm, I also developed crucial time management skills and learned how to work effectively under pressure and on camera, which has served me in countless ways.

“I have carried my experience at Seacrest Studios in my heart throughout my academic and professional career, and I would be remiss not to thank the people who made it possible. To my studio supervisors, Nichole Mondshein and Becca Wagner, thank you for taking a chance on me as an intern and helping me grow into the young professional I am today. A huge thank you to the Ryan Seacrest Foundation. Thank you for providing patients a place to escape the hospital for a while and allowing them to be the stars they are. You have greatly impacted my life as a former intern, and I am forever grateful.” -Jackie Shanley