Known as helpful, guiding, and reassuring, Sharon Syc, PhD, to leave Erikson after 20 years

Led by Dr. Syc since 2002, Child Life specialty prepares students to work with children in times of great need

In 2002, Associate Clinical Professor Sharon Syc, PhD, enrolled Erikson’s first student in our Child Life specialization, a unique area of graduate study where students learn to advocate for young children and families in some of the most stressful healthcare settings involving sickness, accidents, disease, terminal illness, and death.

“It’s a highly competitive field,” Dr. Syc says. “There are a lot more people who want to work in this field than there are internship placements for them.” Child Life is a specialty area of study within Erikson’s Master of Science in Child Development program in which students learn to advocate for children and families by helping them face the unknown, make complex situations understandable, and facilitate the optimal development of children whose medical treatment may leave them vulnerable to opportunities for learning and growth.

In her 20 years at Erikson, Dr. Syc has been instrumental in developing and building the Child Life area of study here, preparing dozens of professionals who are leaders in the Child Life field in Chicago and across the country.

She will be leaving her role as director of the program and moving beyond classroom teaching at the end of the spring semester to re-engage in activities she is passionate about, such as mentoring, leading initiatives to support children from dual-language backgrounds, helping children access a diverse range of literature, and working with children on social-emotional issues.

Even though she is leaving her clinical faculty position at Erikson, Dr. Syc will remain involved in supervising current Child Life students in the program as they complete their 2017-18 internships. Students who secure a Child Life internship are required to complete 480 to 600 hours of clinical internship time in order to meet the requirements of the Association of Child Life Professionals as one piece of eligibility for certification in the field.

With the benefit of an Erikson education and Dr. Syc’s leadership, Erikson alumni are advancing the Child Life field. “She was so helpful throughout my time at Erikson—helpful, guiding, reassuring,” says Regan Shaw, MS ’14, a graduate of the Child Life program. “During internships, having her there to work through those tough moments, she was very insightful and direct with her guidance.”

Dr. Syc says she feels honored to have been part of shaping future Child Life experts at Erikson.

“I’m really proud of our graduates and it’s nice to see our alums are working in the field across the United States, carrying a strong presence and are well respected in what they do.”

About the professor

During her tenure at Erikson, Dr. Syc served as director of Erikson’s Child Life specialization and as co-director of the Irving B. Harris Infant Specialist Certificate Program. In addition, she served as an adviser to Erikson’s master’s degree programs in the areas of early childhood special education and early intervention. She was a member of the Erikson Institute Faculty Development Project on the Brain and co-author of a module on the brain and language development.