Child Life Specialist MS student Ciara Sprague
By Alisha Saavedra (Director of Clinical Training for the Child Life Specialist MS program) - June 5, 2019

An Interview with SBH Student Ciara Sprague from the Bigger Than Bubbles Podcast

Q: Who is the School of Behavioral Health student behind the mic?
A: My name is Ciara (Esse) Sprague, and I'm a student in the MS Child Life Specialist Program. I grew up knowing that I wanted to help others, but never could figure out the right calling. After trying to figure out where I wanted to be for college and my future, I ended up at California State University Fullerton. I landed on child and adolescent development by accident, but I'm so thankful that I did. It was during my undergraduate work that I was introduced to the world of child life, and I feel as though I never really looked back because of how inclusive it was of all the things I wanted out of a career. After CSUF, I decided to further my education in the field of child life, which is why I'm now at Loma Linda University. Over the years I've worked with children in so many different settings, such as hospice, elementary to high school, and of course in hospitals. A few other fun facts about myself are that I married my high school sweetheart during my first quarter of graduate school, I've been a server for five years now, and I love to teach yoga whenever I have the time. Yes, I have an extremely busy schedule--but why not add on a podcast, right?!

Q: What prompted you to start a podcast?
A: There were actually a few different factors that prompted me to start this podcast. First, I was so tired of explaining what child life was over and over to family members. So I thought that if they could hear from myself and others in the field, they could have a better understanding of what it is that I actually do with children. Second, the field is very impacted right now, which has made it extremely competitive to meet certain requirements--such as an internship. I worked very hard the first time around on my internship applications, but unfortunately I didn’t get placed and needed to make a second round of applications. I was trying to find a way to stand out, and a podcast for the field on my résumé seemed like it could grab the attention of internship supervisors. I had had the idea for quite some time already when I started applying again, but getting it on my résumé was the push I needed to put everything into full gear. Third, I love hearing stories of other child life specialists and I absolutely love listening to podcasts, which is why I decided to combine the two! I’ve always known that I wanted to add to the field of child life in some way, but I was never sure how I could or what it would be. Bigger Than Bubbles seemed like the answer to how I could contribute to the field that I'm so passionate about.

Q: When did the podcast begin?
A: The podcast launched during the first week of January in 2019. I started with the "Teaser Episode" on January 6 and then "#1: Bubbler Michelle Parker, MA, CCLS” launched on January 8! However, it was on a drive home from my summer child life practicum in 2018 that I first had the idea of creating this podcast. It took so many months of research, planning, and communication with others to really make my idea a reality. However, like I am with most things, once I set my mind to something, I always make it happen!

Q: Before we hear more, I have to ask, where did the name Bigger Than Bubbles come from?
A: If you're in the field of child life, you know it's a profession that's hard to explain to others. If you're not in the field, you might still have some questions about what it is we really do. You might even think that we're just people who play all day or blow bubbles constantly. As a future child life specialist who is always trying to show others that we are more than just toys or bubbles, I heard something one day that really stuck with me. It was in a class with Michelle Parker (the first guest on the podcast) and she told us, "You are more than a bubble degree, so be more than bubbles!" This eventually turned into "bigger than bubbles." Even when there are days that consist of blowing bubbles, my education has given me the tools to use simple things like bubbles in a more meaningful way than most may ever understand.

Q: Can you give us an idea about what your first season was like?
A: The entire season is a collection of 10 episodes that went up every other Tuesday, and each episode ranged from about an hour to an hour and a half-long conversation. The guests were a compilation of certified child life specialists, educators, and a counselor. My favorite thing about the guests I had on was that they all varied in their credentials, education, and experience in their field, which is why I feel as though listeners would be able to hear something different each time and connect with them in different ways.

Q: What have you learned from your "Bubblers" and listeners?
A: I have truly learned so much through this experience! As for my guests, aka Bubblers, I love listening to their stories and learning different intervention ideas or ways to go about something in our field. I also love being reminded about different aspects of the development of children and how we can help them during certain scenarios. As for my listeners, I've learned that many of us have had similar experiences in finding it difficult to navigate through this field. This has made me so grateful though, because I now have this platform where students can reach out, ask questions, and connect with me whenever they want. Lastly, I've also been reminded that the individuals in this field, certified child life specialists and students, are incredibly creative, passionate, and determined individuals, which makes me proud to be considered a part of this group of people.

Q: What can listeners anticipate during Season 2 of Bigger Than Bubbles?
A: From the very start I mentioned that this podcast will adapt and change as my life adapts and changes. I was able to earn an internship with Sutter Medical Center, Children’s Center in Northern California and I will be up there for four months. For this reason, I knew I wouldn’t have as much time to give to the podcast and would need to downsize somehow. I was lucky enough to be placed with a fellow LLU classmate for internship, which had me thinking that it would be really fun to do something with her for the podcast. We're still working things out, but I will say that listeners can plan on tuning into episodes that revolve around an internship!

Q: If someone wanted to listen to your podcast, where can they find you?           
A: The podcast is on SoundCloud, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. You can also find Bigger Than Bubbles on Instagram and the web. I love meeting and interacting with people there, so feel free to pop in and say hi!