Sydney Ehinger

Sydney Ehinger

Human Development and Family Science

UGA, Child Life program provided the academic foundation for Ehinger's development of clinical skills


M.S. in Child Life, 2022

Current occupation/Location

Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) at Duke Children’s Hospital (Durham, N.C.)

What has been your proudest accomplishment since graduating?

Receiving the Student Research Award from the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) for my research conducted for my master’s thesis. I was honored at the 2023 ACLP conference along with Dr. Diane Bales for receiving this award.

What was your favorite class in FACS?

My favorite class was Therapeutic Benefits of Play with Dr. Bales. This class helped me think critically about the importance of play for children in the hospital setting. I still use some of the activity plans I created in this class in my clinical practice as a CCLS today.

Did you have a favorite – or most memorable – faculty member?

Dr. Bales without a doubt! I still consider her a mentor to this day. Not only did she help guide me through the ups and downs of becoming a CCLS, but she also supported my passion for conducting child life research.

How do you think FACS prepared you for your career success?

I would not be the CCLS nor the researcher I am today without UGA’s Child Life program. My education at UGA laid the academic foundation for me to develop strong clinical skills both in my child life internship and now as a professional. As UGA is an R1 research institution, I was also able to conduct child life-specific research with the support of the HDFS department. The research skills I fostered at UGA gave me the confidence to continue to pursue research projects now as a clinical professional.

What inspires or motivates you?

The pediatric patients and siblings I get to work with every day at Duke Children’s Hospital!

What advice would you give a current FACS student looking to pursue a career in your field?

Find as many opportunities to work with children as possible while you are a student. Athens has wonderful opportunities in the area to work with well children and children with medical complexities. The more real-life exposure you have to various developmental stages in different settings, the more successful you will be as a future child life intern. While in the classroom, continue to think critically about how a variety of theories apply to hospitalized children. And most importantly, find your own outlet for self-care. The journey to become a CCLS can be difficult and it is important to take care of yourself!

Jump to top