What led you to study in the Child Advocacy and Policy MA Program at Montclair State University?
As a Board Certified Education Advocate I serve as a voice for marginalized populations that face barriers. I assist parents and their children in overcoming these barriers so that students are able to access their education. I chose the Child Advocacy and Policy MA Program to provide me with a child focused and multi-disciplinary advocacy education that would improve my knowledge and competencies so as to better assist and provide effective and positive outcome for those I serve. The CHAD Program has brilliantly accomplished this and much more! It is empowering, transformative and authentic.
If you chose an online program, why did you do so?
I chose an on-line program for convenience and flexibility that enabled me to receive my education while also maintaining my professional practice.
What is life like “after Montclair”?
My experience at Montclair has been life altering as I emerged a more culturally competent, knowledgeable and empowered person. The MSU CHAD Program empowered me to empower others to advocate on their own. This is accomplished through the sharing of knowledge that enables others to be powerful advocates and find their own voice. In truth, life after Montclair is awesome but it is also bittersweet. As the program is grounded in a collaborative learning opportunity with peers and professors, the end of the program brings with it a sense of loss as we find ourselves without what had become “home”, a place of unconditional acceptance and embrace. Montclair is a community that celebrates diversity and in the CHAD Program every student’s success and growth is garnered through a mutual exchange of ideas, beliefs, cultural backgrounds and lives shared. No matter what the challenge, the course encourages and develops the human relationship and the love and support that caring about each other brings. The Program is a demonstration of mutual respect and understanding and is as much a community of strength as it is an education.
What are you doing now?
My work with the marginalized and civil rights continues as I serve others in private practice in both individual and systems advocacy. My practice is specifically focused on ending disparate and discriminatory treatment of students of protected classes through promoting compliance and improving the quality of education. Thanks to the MSU program I am now serving these populations at my personal and professional best thanks to the classmates and professors who contributed to my learning and fostered my growth.
Did/does the program meet your expectations?
The Child Advocacy and Policy MA Program at MSU has set the standard in child advocacy. The program far exceeded my personal expectations as it allows for proficiency in all aspects of advocacy inclusive of individual, systems and professional advocacy. True empowerment evolves as the program cross trains the student in the social, psychological and legal aspects of advocacy practice. An in-depth understanding of the identified process of ‘policy’ grants the student the ability to be influential and effective in the sustained effort of systems advocacy. I concluded the program with the skill set necessary to contribute to effectual outcome in policy development. Also key to the CHAD program is the student’s development of highly effective verbal and written communication, proficiency in cultural competency and the fostered growth of self-awareness. As a result of the CHAD MA Program I approach every situation with the highest level of jurisprudence, integrity and ethical standard of practice.
What kind of support did you receive from faculty and staff?
The faculty and staff inspire trust, build interactive communication and rapport, and work to facilitate introspection, engagement with classmates and optimum participation. The course work is rigorous and oftentimes is quite challenging, but the dedication and commitment of every professor I had assured my rising to the occasion. As such I had a rewarding experience and always felt supported. The Program Director believes in every student who has the honor of being accepted into this program, and the staff and faculty accept personal responsibility as they cheer for student success and accomplishment. The mission of the CHAD Program is for MSU to help every student achieve success and go forth to advocate for children through a multitude of careers and professions in the field of child advocacy. It was clear to me from the start that I was supported and respected as an advocate. In the program we all share a common goal of “Saving Starfish” and the staff and faculty only want for every student to have a positive and rewarding experience.
Thinking about your experiences with the program at Montclair, what did you like most?
My experiences with my classmates and professors was an unexpected gift that has had a profound effect on who I am today. The collaboration with this “family” is something that I will never forget and will forever be grateful. The faculty are individuals who are much more that professors, but rather they are the heroes of the children of New Jersey. From Ad Litium Guardians who dedicate their lives to the abandon children, to social workers who act as surrogates to help New Jersey’s most at-risk youth, to lawyers and law enforcement who bring justice to the exploited and abused, the student of this program is given a glimpse into lives forgotten, and oftentimes, lives saved. We realize that the children of New Jersey are in need and that there are professionals who accomplish acts of heroism in their everyday lives. We leave the program a better person for knowing our professors and our classmates; and we are humbled. This most precious experience in getting to know my fellow students and these professionals was by far the most profound and extraordinary of experiences with the program.
How would you describe your experiences with the “online” aspect of the program?
The on-line learning experience was a joy and the program was organized, clear, concise and user friendly. In times of questions or concerns the personnel in IT were most helpful and always solved any issue or concern.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your experiences in the program?
The Child Advocacy and Policy Program at Montclair represents a community of strength, hope and courage. As advocacy is a calling to value each other we come to the program unified as one as every student has the same goals: to empower others, to be a voice for those without a voice, and to make a difference in the lives of children. Being amongst a group of individuals who share this calling is a profound and moving experience. MSU CHAD is an empowering, transformative and profound experience that develops consciousness in society and the ability to change injustice.