Silina O’Niell-Vaughn

As a high schooler, Silina O’Niell-Vaughn was sure that she wanted to attend Iowa State University. She went to community college after high school and her experiences there helped determine her major once she transferred to Iowa State. She worked as an assistant teacher at Head Start where she hands-on opportunities working with children and coordinating with their families.

“I really enjoyed working with the kids and coordinating with the parents about the safety and well-being of their children, said O’Neill-Vaughn. “This is when I knew that I wanted to go beyond the classroom and further into the lives of these families. Family services and child welfare became my passion.”

Iowa State’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) gave her the opportunity to do just that. Experiences she’s had as a student is what kept her motivated to continue pursuing her degree and reaching her goals.

While on campus, O’Niell-Vaughn works at the Child Development Lab School, located in Palmer Hall. The lab school gives students  hands-on work and field experience with young children ages birth through age four.

O’Niell-Vaughn’s advice for students is to check the student job board to find work and volunteer opportunities related to their major.

O’Niell-Vaughn is extending her learning in HDFS as a Family Support Specialist Intern with Families First Counseling, an agency that provides child welfare services to families. Something she enjoys developing strong relationships between herself and her associates.

“Building trust and a solid relationship with the children and families is extremely rewarding,” she says.

Her experiences in and outside of the classroom are keeping her motivated to follow the child welfare career path when she graduates.

By Amanda Urban

Student Spotlights