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AgPack Strong: Passionate about Helping People

Shonette Lewis began her graduate career in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences in the spring of 2010, pursuing a master’s degree in family life and youth development. She completed her degree in a little over a year and hit the ground running. Read on to learn more about Shonette and her passion for helping others.

Where did your path after graduation lead?

After I earned my degree, I worked as a child care administrator and a certified teacher for a local school district. I have recently accepted a position as a family educator and training specialist for a nonprofit organization in Winston-Salem, N.C.

What does your job entail?

I provide parent education for families with children ages 0-5 using a curriculum called Parents as Teachers (PAT). PAT is an evidenced-based curriculum that supports parents with positive parent-child interactions, development-centered parenting and family well-being. I conduct home visits twice a month and provide families with resources and referrals based on their needs. I also assist parents with behavior management strategies with the hopes of reducing the occurrences of child abuse and neglect. In addition, I am also responsible for training providers and practitioners in the community on using a strengths-based approach to work with families.

You’re passionate about your work. When did it spark?

I have always desired to work with children and families. It started when I worked as a volunteer for Big Brothers/Big Sisters during my sophomore year of high school. From that point on I took courses and summer intern positions working with young children. Additionally, I was always curious about developmental milestones and how internal and external factors influence a child’s wellbeing, so I pursued undergraduate degrees in child development and family relations and early childhood education. I honestly chose this path because I wanted to see families succeed, and I wanted to see children have successful early starts. I enjoy working with young children because they are free spirits! I love their creative thinking, and I adore seeing them interact with one another. Simply put, I value being in their presence.

How did your graduate studies help shape your career?

The college and my home department had a positive impact on my career in a variety of ways. For starters, the courses, which focused on developmental theories and family dynamics, prepared me to work with diverse families. I also had an opportunity to reflect on my beliefs and current practices as a result of our in-depth class discussions. Finally, I was always aware of opportunities for networking and professional development as a result of my connection with the Youth, Family and Community Sciences program.

What was your favorite part of the experience?  

Outside of becoming more knowledgeable about the field I love, the best part about completing this program has been building and maintaining positive relationships with the professors. They provide you with support while challenging you to step out of your comfort zone. I completed the program almost six years ago but my professors are still some of the first people I contact when I experience professional or personal growth, and they are the individuals I consult when I need professional guidance.

What is your dream job?

As I reflect on my ultimate career goal, I know that I will continue to work with young children and families. I would like to continue providing parent education, but I also have an interest in teaching at the collegiate level.

What comes to mind when you reflect on your time at NC State?

I am proud to be an NC State alum, and I am honored to be a part of a department that does so much good for children, families and the community.

This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.