Alumni Spotlight: Allison Della Penna
Allison Della Penna graduated from Batavia High School in 2015, and during her senior year, she attended Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center. Della Penna participated in the Health Careers Academy Program. She now works for the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital as a Certified Child Life Specialist.
From a young age, she knew she wanted to become a Child Life Specialist. After hearing about the Health Careers Academy, she knew the program would assist her in obtaining the necessary college credits and give her opportunities to network in the health field.
After high school, she went to Utica College where she earned her bachelor's degree in Psychology-Child Life. While a student at Utica, she obtained an internship at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse, NY. Her child-life internship was 600 hours over a 15-week span. As a requirement to work in the health career field, she had to complete the internship.
After she completed the requirements for her degree, she took her certification exam and officially became a CCLS. Della Penna describes herself as lucky because she received a job at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in the pediatric emergency department. She has been working there since 2019. She now works
with the burn service, working with pediatric burn survivors and their families.
“My favorite part of the job is working with pediatric patients and their families, supporting them through the difficult experiences they face during hospitalization, and seeing the resiliency children often have to overcome during these challenges,” explained Della Penna. For the patients that become long-term, she loves seeing their growth. This makes her job truly special, being able to see patients overcome and beat the odds.
Her role as a CCLS is to provide education for patients and parents about what to expect during their treatment and provide preparation and support for various procedures that occur during hospitalization. She also orchestrates expression activities that normalize the hospital stay through play and provide ongoing support during their transition home.
The Child Life Department at Upstate is built of Child Life Specialists, Art Therapists, Music Therapists, and Gaming & Technology Specialists. The team members are valued by the multidisciplinary team at Upstate and are active members of the patient care team.
“My advice for students interested in the health field is to immerse themselves in as many volunteer/shadow opportunities as possible in hopes of validating that this is the field you wish to pursue and to obtain experience that will help you stand out from other students,” said Della Penna. She is proud that she obtained college credits during high school through the Health Careers Academy and it validated her that the health field was right for her.