Family and human development grad seeks to help children process trauma
Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.
Kayla Craig, a family and human development major from the School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University, talks about the compelling interaction that set her career path in motion.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: I have always known that I wanted to work with children, yet I was lost on what form my career would take. Originally, my first two years of college I had planned to pursue a nursing degree. I was thinking that I would find myself working in a children's hospital or in neonatal.
My entire track shifted after one summer while volunteering at a children’s summer camp. A child came up to me and told me that they had been hit by their parents. The child continued to open up to me, telling me that it's their fault they can no longer see their parents. This child felt guilt and shame, like they were at fault for experiencing abuse. This interaction broke my heart. No child should ever experience abuse, nor should they grow up believing the abuse was their fault. My major has given me the foundation to build up my toolbox to not only help children process trauma, but also help give parents the proper tools needed to raise a child in a healthy environment.
Sometimes all people need is for someone to see the light within them, someone to see their worth and to listen. I plan to be that someone. I am here to teach safety and to spread love. We are all inherently worthy of love.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: ASU taught me the importance of community. The college experience is really what you make of it. I decided to get involved in the club SKY meditation at ASU. The people in this club taught me just how valued I am as a person and I was able to find joy in deepening connections. SKY taught me how to care for my mind through meditation and human connection. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is be gentle with yourself and allow yourself the time to settle your mind.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: Many of my family members are ASU alumni, and some are even professors at ASU. I wanted to join the family ASU alumni club. I am also impressed with ASU’s mission for sustainability.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: Dr. Amy Reesing has left a continuing impact on me. I had the honor of taking SOC 294: Cultivating Compassion with Dr. Reesing in fall 2019. Dr. Reesing helped instill in me values I wish to embody moving forward. Compassion not only leaves a positive impact on the community; compassion also leaves a positive impact on me. I tend to be my harshest critic and that can become very draining. I am worthy of self-compassion, and I now offer myself the compassion I deserve while I continue to push myself forward.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Find the discipline and balance within yourself. Remember that your education is for you, so take this investment seriously. You are in charge of your own life and your efforts do pay off. Schoolwork is important and so are you. It is okay to take your education at your own pace, listen to yourself and your limits. Hold onto the things that bring you joy. You can do this!
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: Last year, I would treat myself to a tea and raspberry muffin from the coffee shop connected to Hayden Library. I would then take my treats up the stairs to Hayden Lawn. I can’t tell you how many times I have taken naps in that lawn. This is also a great spot for stretching and moving my body before going back to class.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: After graduation, I plan to move somewhere I can enjoy the mountains. When I’m not at work or school, I’m on a mountain. I now know South Mountain like the back of my hand, and I am ready to explore more of the Earth. I do plan on going back to school to earn my masters in mental health counseling, but I’m not going to rush the process. I want to take some time to really listen to myself and be certain where my intuition is pulling me.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: This is a big question. I would put that $40 million into finding solutions for climate change. Earth is everyone’s home, yet Earth is currently not being treated with respect. The $40 million would go toward research, action, and education. According to UN.org, we only have 10 years left to prevent irreversible damage from climate change. We are all connected one way or another. I hope to see a day where humanity is able to come together in unity with respect for one another, as well as respect for Earth.