Meet Cherilyn DeFreitas

Cherilyn DeFreitas
HDF Undergraduate Student

Cherilyn DeFreitas, a senior at the University of Rhode Island, is currently pursuing a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences with a concentration in Counseling and Social Services, along with a minor in Leadership Studies. Cherilyn recently accepted a Human Resources Internship at the Gilbane Building Company. 

“I really like the culture that we create in HDF classrooms… With the HDF major, you’re learning about people and how people interact with each other…you can apply that to many different fields.”
Cherilyn DeFreitas

What year are you?

I’m a senior.

Nice, are you from RI?

Yup, I’m from Rhode Island. I’m from Tiverton.

Do you do any activities or research on campus?

On campus, I’m currently interning at the Career Center, so I’m a Peer Career Advisor and I hold drop-in hours. I help with resumes, cover letters, Linkedin reviews, and all that stuff. That’s been fun. It’s my senior level internship for my Human Development & Family Sciences major. It’s been fun! I’m really interested in career consulting and career coaching, so it’s been good to get a lens into that. Besides that, I’m a tour guide on campus, so that’s been fun too.

JT: Wow, you’re booked and busy!

Yeah, this semester is something else, but I love being a tour guide, and I recently became a Human Development and Family Science Student Ambassador, which is awesome as well.

Do you have any career goals or anything in mind that you want to do?

Interestingly, the way I see Human Development and Family Science is a lot different than the way other people see the major. I see it as learning about people and how people interact with each other, and you can apply that in many different fields—pretty much every single one that you can think of. So for me, I’m actually interested in leadership development, strengths coaching, human resources, and talent acquisition. One of the reasons why I wanted to be an HDF Student Ambassador is because I want to show students there’s so much versatility within the major, and while working with kids is a common path to take, that’s not the only path. There’s so much you can do.

Did you know that you wanted to work in Human Development before you got the internship?

I came to URI thinking I wanted to be an occupational therapist, which is very different from the track that I’m on now. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Career Center, kind of figuring out what I want to do and I had such a great experience with them, especially my career advisor Ashley Foley who helps all of the Human Development & Family Science majors; she’s amazing! So with that experience, it made me want to be that same resource for other students who may be struggling to find their way, so before I interned there I decided that was something I was interested in.

JT: Sometimes students don’t utilize that resource enough, so it’s great to hear that you had a good experience.

What do you like most about the HDF program?

There’s a lot of things I like about HDF. I love the major! I really like the classroom culture that we create in HDF classes. I feel like everyone in the classes are respectful, and it’s a space where you share a lot of personal experiences or opinions as it relates to research and theories. It always feels like a safe space for me. And I think that the professors offering a time for class conversations and reflecting is really good and helps you learn about yourself while you’re also learning about others and how to help others. The way our classes are set up is really cool.

How did you hear about the program?

I’m a leadership minor, so the code for that is “HDF” and I was like, “What is HDF?” As someone who was interested in occupational therapy at the time, classes like “Early Intervention” really drew my interest, so I decided to minor in HDF. I was a Health Studies major at the time and then I liked the HDF classes so much that I decided that I wanted to major in it.

What does the scholarship mean to you?

The scholarship that I received as an HDF major meant a lot to me. Knowing that the HDF faculty recognized that I’ve been working hard in the Human Development field and that I have a commitment to helping others really meant a lot to me. Financially, obviously it really helped so I have money to buy books and other necessities.

Any words of wisdom for prospective undergraduates?

I would say to take every opportunity that comes your way. The HDF major provides you with a lot of opportunities for experiential education like working with children, working with older adults, that kind of thing. Even if you’re not sure you want to work with children or older adults, just take all those opportunities, really soak everything in, and just be open to new experiences. Take advantage of it all!