Texas Tech University

Human Development and Family Sciences Alumna Supporting Children and Their Families as a Child Life Specialist

Mallory Collins

February 17, 2022

Carmen Pedersen

Christina Manley’s impactful career as a Child Life Specialist

Christina Manley graduated in 2009 from Texas Tech with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, now referred to as Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS). Today, Manley is a certified child life specialist for the Saint Francis Children's Hospital, providing developmentally appropriate procedural preparation and support for children.

Manley chose to major in Human Development and Family Sciences due to the focus on relationships the degree offers students. The College of Human Sciences offers individuals such as Manley the ability to learn valuable and impactful information to succeed in future careers.  

“I discovered I wanted something more psychosocial and ministry based,” Manley said. “I found child life to be a nice combination of ministering to and supporting families during difficult times while also being in the medical field.” 

Majoring in Human Development and Family Sciences allowed Manley to develop multiple skills she now has the opportunity to implement in her career, specifically when working with children and their families. 

“What I learned prepared me for working with children of various developmental levels and families in stressful situations,” Manley explained.

Throughout her time in the College of Human Sciences, Manley explored the science of development, with a focus on relationships. The program allows students to research different aspects of development and how that impacts growth, change, and well-being over time.

“My knowledge of human development and family theories helps me in my assessment, support, and interventions with families in the hospital,” Manley said. 

As a child life specialist, Manley helps and supports children and their families in many ways. One of those ways is working at the Saint Francis Children's Hospital. There, she can aid children going through end of life support and diagnosis education. 

Manley said the enjoyable part of your job is helping kids master difficult experiences such as surgery and medical procedures they may be anxious about. 

Another essential part of Manley's role includes planning and facilitating the one-week overnight summer camp hosted by Saint Francis Hospital. Pediatric oncology and cardiac patients of Saint Francis Hospital attend this camp to enjoy activities in a safe environment.  

“We provide modified summer camp activities appropriate for patient abilities and endurance levels,” Manley said. “This allows kids who otherwise wouldn't have been able to participate in camp due to their medical condition to still be able to attend and participate in camp.”

The Human Development and Family Sciences degree program has prepared students for careers supporting patients and their families through relational understanding. Highly qualified faculty teach a strong foundation and the importance of relationships.

“I learned so much from my time at Texas tech,” Manley said. “The professors were very knowledgeable and had good life experience to add to their teachings.”