Born and bred in Greensboro, Emma Rettew had no plans of attending college in her hometown.

Instead, she headed west to a university in the mountains. But after a year and a half, she missed the pace of the city. She transferred to UNCG, a decision that’s meant top-notch internships, being able to shadow industry leaders and access to a range of international study abroad choices.

“I wanted more opportunities in the area that surrounded me. I wanted to be in a more urban setting,” Rettew said.

When she stumbled across UNCG’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies housed in the School of Health and Human Sciences, Rettew knew she’d found the right place.

“I always knew I wanted to work with children and families, but I didn’t want to teach,” she said, adding that the program’s concentration on child, youth and family development was the perfect fit for her.

Rettew, who graduated in May, took advantage of numerous opportunities to explore different aspects of child and family development throughout her time at UNCG, including internships, shadowing professionals in the field and a study abroad trip to Costa Rica.

She initially missed the deadline to apply for the Costa Rica trip because she was nervous about the language barrier and staying with a host family, but ultimately, Rettew decided she “couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”

She spent three weeks, along with other students from UNCG’s School of Health and Human Sciences, interacting with Costa Ricans, studying the nation’s special needs population and adventuring.

“I was so thankful for the experience,” Rettew said.

As a student worker in the child care centers on UNCG’s campus, Rettew’s love for young children continued to grow, and she developed a passion for children with disabilities.

It wasn’t until her junior year, however, that she began considering a career in pediatric occupational therapy. An internship with the Greensboro Children’s Developmental Services Agency (CDSA) allowed Rettew to further explore that possibility.

Rettew worked with different professionals both in the office and on home visits, where she’d assist them as they conducted evaluations and created individualized family service plans.

“I think every single child has something to offer the world,” she said. “I want to make sure we can help them reach the best of their abilities.”

Rettew currently works as an educational therapist with Because Early Education Matters, LLC in Greensboro. She plans to spend a year taking prerequisite classes before applying to UNC Chapel Hill’s occupational therapy program for the 2017-18 academic year.


Story by Jeanie McDowell, University Relations
Photography by Brian Speice, Intern, University Relations