Meet the Staff of the Child Life Program Hero

Meet the Staff of the Child Life Program

Kristal R. Neal, BS, CCLS
Kristal, Child Life Coordinator, has been working at The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital  since 2001.  She graduated from Utica College of Syracuse University with a degree in Psychology/Child Life.  She completed her Child Life Internship at Bellevue Hospital in New York, and was employed as a CCLS at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) before coming to Saint Peter’s.  She has helped to create a department staffed by three full-time child life specialists and other support staff.
 

Amanda Carlson,  BS, CCLS

Amanda is a full-time child life specialist who works in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic and in the Dorothy B. Hersh Pediatric Emergency Department. She graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a degree in psychology, concentrating on youth and children. Prior to working at Saint Peter’s,  she interned at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, NY, where she worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings and at an annual bereavement camp for children. She volunteered for many years and completed a child life practicum at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, CT. She has extensive experience working with children and their families in different settings and is experienced also as a children’s dance teacher and nanny for children of all ages.

Alexa Curtiss, MS, CCLS 

Alexa is a full-time child life specialist.  She earned a master's degree in Child Life and Family-Centered Care and a bachelor's degree in Psychology and Human Development, both from Wheelock College in Boston.  Her internship experience includes work in the inpatient unit and pediatric intensive care unit at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tuft's Medical Center in Boston, the Massachusetts-based outpatient pediatric clinic at Joslin Diabetes Center, and work alongside the health and wellness educator at the Boston Children's Museum. She has also volunteered at Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut and Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children living with life-threatening illnesses and their families. In addition to working with children, Alexa is passionate about animals and animal rescue, and has previously trained and been certified as part of an animal-assisted activity team.  

Maria Valencia, BA, CCLS
Maria is a part-time child life specialist.  She graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in psychology. As an intern at the Goryeb Children's Hospital at Morristown Medical Center, she worked in the Pediatric Unit, PICU,  the Emergency Department and the Valerie Fund Children’s Center. Prior to her internship, she volunteered with the Child Life Department at Bristol Myer's Squibb Children's Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. She has also volunteered at camps and with organizations dedicated to children affected by cancer and homelessness.
 
Cumber Michelle
Michelle Cumber, MA, CCLS, CEIM
Michelle is a part-time Child Life Specialist who works in the Dorothy B. Hersh Pediatric Emergency Department. She earned a master's degree in Child Advocacy and a bachelor's degree in Family and Child Studies with a concentration as a Child Life Specialist from Montclair State University. As an intern at Robert Wood Johnson University, Michelle gained experience working in Pediatrics, Adolescents, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Radiology, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Pediatric Same Day Surgery, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, and the Pediatric Emergency Department. Prior to interning, she volunteered at St. Peter's University Hospital. As a Child Life Specialist, Michelle has experience working in Pediatrics, the Pediatric Emergency Department, and Pediatric Same Day Surgery and has training in working with bereaved families, which is a passion of hers.
 
Madeha Ayub
Madeha Ayub, MS, CCLS, OTR/L
Madeha is a per-diem Child Life Specialist who works in the Dorothy B. Hersh Pediatric Emergency Department. Madeha received her master's degree in Occupational Therapy from SUNY Downstate Medical Center and a bachelor's degree in Psychology from CUNY Hunter College. As part of her Child Life internship experience at Maimonides Medical Center, Madeha worked in the acute inpatient Pediatric Unit, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Radiology Department, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Cancer Center, Ambulatory Surgery and the Pediatric Emergency Department. Madeha also works as a part-time Occupational Therapist for the NYC Department of Education, where she promotes function and facilitates classroom modifications for children with developmental delays, autism and sensory processing issues.
 
Megan McDonald
Megan McDonald-Music Therapist
Megan is a part-time board certified music therapist (MT-BC). She earned her Bachelor's degree in music therapy from Marywood University. Megan completed her 1200 hour clinical music therapy internship at the Matheny Medical and Educational Center in Peapack, NJ, where she worked with individuals with multiple disabilities. She served a wide range of ages throughout her internship , from infants to geriatric patients. Megan has clinical music therapy experience working with individuals with intellectual disability, those with cerebral palsy, children with speech disorders, children and teens with emotional disturbance, those with Alzheimer's and Dementia, and hospice patients. She has experience facilitating both group and individual music therapy sessions. Megan also works part-time as a music educator in Westfield, NJ, where she teaches violin, viola, cello, and piano to students of all ages and abilities. As a music educator, she also specializes in adapted music lessons for children with Autism.
McKenzie Edgerton-Child Life Specialist
McKenzie Edgerton-Child Life Specialist
McKenzie is a part-time Child Life Specialist who works in the Dorothy B. Hersh Pediatric Emergency Department. McKenzie graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Child Development and a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages minor. Prior to working at Saint Peters, she worked at Metro Health Hospital and Bronson Children's Hospital in the Emergency Department. McKenzie completed her internship at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital where she gained experience in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Radiation Oncology. She also completed her practicum at Bronson Children's Hospital where she gained experience in Radiology, General Pediatrics, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Emergency Department, and Hematology Oncology. McKenzie has volunteered at various camps for individuals with special needs and individuals affected by cancer. She has a passion for helping others and is very happy to be here!

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