Combining Child Development and Music – Jessica Williford

At Meredith College, Jessica Williford, ’16, earned two degrees, studied child development and music, and completed an internship that helped determine her career path.

Duke Children’s Hospital internship in the Arts for Life Program helped prepare Jessica for her future career.

“This was an internship that my advisor, Dr. Clark, recommended to me based on my interest in the arts and working with children. Through this experience, I discovered a passion and calling for working with children and families who are facing hospitalization and chronic illnesses.”

Jessica’s post-Meredith plans include earning a Master of Science in child life at the College of Charleston. While there, she’ll also complete a child life practicum at the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital.

After graduate school, Jessica wants to work in a children’s hospital as a certified child life specialist.

“I am excited to share my love of music with children and families in this capacity, and I am especially interested in using music as a way to help children cope through painful procedures.”

An Honors student, Jessica was actively involved in the music program, participating in Sinfonietta, Chorus, and Octavia. In the child development program, she completed teaching placements at local schools.

Jessica also worked with the Meredith Autism Program (MAP), beginning in her freshman year. This experience inspired her honors thesis, in which she researched the use of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in teaching young children with autism to play the piano. She designed six teaching programs that targeted various musical and early-piano skills and were modeled after ABA programs that she learned about at MAP.

“Then I implemented these teaching programs over eight weeks with three preschool children diagnosed with autism who enrolled in my study.  I learned so much through my thesis experience, and I am so thankful for the faculty and staff who believed in my idea and who helped me to pursue it.”

Jessica is thankful for the support of Meredith faculty as she pursued her dreams.

“Through their encouragement, I have been able to achieve my goals and grow in many areas including research, presenting, writing, teaching children, musicianship, and performance.”

Learn more about Meredith’s music and child development programs