Melanie Austin-McCain
Dr. Melanie Austin-McCain Position: Assistant Professor
Department: Occupational Therapy Program
Campus: Old Westbury
Member of NYIT Since: 2011

Inspired by Harriet Tubman, Wilma Rudolph, Rosa Parks and Maya Angelou. Born in Brooklyn, NY.

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."

– Harriet Tubman, Runaway Slave and Conductor of the Underground Railroad

"The most important aspect is to be yourself and have confidence in yourself. The triumph can’t be had without the struggle.” “No matter what accomplishments you make somebody helps you."

– Wilma Rudolph, 1960 Olympics

Dr. Melanie Austin-McCain

  • 1984 – Graduated High School – NYS High School Track and Field Record Holder
  • 1980’s – 2000 Colgate Womens Games Finalist
  • 1994 – Track & Field Scholarship to NYIT
  • 1996 - Accepted in the NYIT Occuational Therpay Program
  • 2000 – Graduated with honors – BS in Occupational Therapy, NYIT
  • 2001 – Started OT Department at Henry Street Settlement
  • 2001 – Started Teen on the right Track – Youth Wellness & PreventionProgram
  • 2004 -2010 – First Director of the Parent Center at Henry Street Settlement
  • 2007 – Started WellnessTrack, LLC – Women’s Empowerment and Wellness
  • 2008 – Inducted in the NYIT Athletics Hall of Fame
  • 2009 – Received MPA, Baruch College, NY
  • 2010 – Assistant Professor – Touro College – OT Dept.
  • 2011 – Assitant Professor – NYIT – OT Dept.
  • 2013 – Nominated NYIT’s 31 Women of March
  • 2013 – Received Doctorate in OT – Temple University, PA

Empowering others to see their value and utilize every opportunity to overcome challenges is at the core of my philosophy. My life work is defined by the experiences, challenges and opportunities I have encountered.

As a child, born and raised in the inner city of Brooklyn, NY, I am grateful for my mother who instilled in me her strength, faith and the importance of education. In high school, I excelled in track and field, graduating in 1984 as the New York State Public High School Record Holder in the 300 meter dash. Although I received numerous track and field scholarship offers, I chose to postpone college scholarship opportunities to work full time as a single parent.

During the ten years after graduating high school, as a member of Concorde Track Club, my community track team, I participated in the Colgate Women’s Games and other local and national track and field events. One of my most memorable races was competing in the 200 meter dash with former USA Olympic Gold Medalist Marion Jones (see photo 1). I was definitely out of my league here, but my coach believed that this race would push me to do best. I hung in through the first turn with these elite runners, later finding myself all alone and remembering my coach’s words to “finish strong”.

Although, I placed “dead last” (see photo 2) in this event, I ran a personal best time, which gave me new opportunities. Thanks for the push Marion! Later, at a local track meet, I was spotted by Peter Zinno, Head Track & Field Coach at NYIT who was a former USA Olympic Track Coach and interviewed by his team of assistant coaches, Kelvin Campbell and Teresa Henderson.

In 1994, ten years after high school, I received a second chance of a lifetime opportunity, a full-track and field scholarship to NYIT. Special thanks to my coaches and Athletic Director, Mr. Clyde Doughty. As captain of NYIT’s Women’s Track Team, I encouraged “teamwork” and helped the women’s relay team achieve our six-time NCAA All American status.

In 1996, I interviewed with Hermine Plotnick, Chair of the Occupational Therapy program, and was accepted into NYIT’s first occupational therapy class. While taking an administration course, one of my class assignments was to write a business proposal for “A New OT Program”. My program was called Teens on the right Track. I graduated in 2000 cum laude with a BS in Occupational Therapy and was awarded Outstanding All-Around Student. My mother, who supported me in returning to school, passed away shortly after attending my graduation.

My community service and leadership endeavors began in 2001 when I was hired at my former clinical fieldwork placement, Henry Street Settlement; a NYC based non-profit organization, to develop an OT department. Later in 2001, I returned to the community I grew up in and started the program I wrote about, Teens on the right Track, a volunteer community wellness and prevention program for at risk youth called (see photos).

In 2004, I became the first program director of Henry Street Settlement’s Parent Center which provides children, parents and families throughout NYC with free health, wellness, and life skill resources. One highlight of this program was hosting the center’s “Empowerment Ball”, an inspirational event for pregnant women and mothers of infants struggling with substance abuse. In 2007, I created WellnessTrack, LLC, a mobile wellness program to empower women and girls.

These experiences propelled me to want to make a greater impact and I completed my Masters of Public Administration (MPA) degree in 2009 at Baruch College. Currently, at Henry Street Settlement, I am the health and wellness consultant and clinical supervisor of occupational therapy students from academic institutions throughout NY and NJ.

My career in academia began in 2009 at NYIT, when Hermine Plotnick invited me to teach as an Adjunct Assistant Professor. In 2010, I began teaching full time at Touro College, and in 2011, I was back where it all started, teaching in at NYIT, School of Health Professions in the Department of Occupational Therapy. I truly enjoy teaching my courses in Community Health, Psychosocial Studies II and Administration/Patient Education.

In 2013, I received my Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD) from Temple University where I developed an innovative evidence-based health promotion program for underserved populations. My research at NYIT includes cross-collaboration with faculty and students from Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Sciences, Computer Science and Experiential Learning depratments. A student service learning project is in progress in collaboration with a community outreach center focusing on healthy lifestyles for underserved community residents.

My goal moving forward is to empower girls and women of all ages in the areas of wellness, professional development and leadership. I am excited about my most recent collaboration with local and global NYIT faculty and leaders on a project entitled “Women in STEM Professions: Gender Disparities, Sociocultural Differences and Workplace Issues”.

I am truly grateful to be teaching at NYIT, the institution that afforded me a second chance. On the very rare occasion when I can take a break from teaching, scholarship and service, I walk across the beautiful campus to the Athletic Department to say thanks again to Athletic Director, Mr. Clyde Doughty.

I appreciate the wonderful support of my Dean, Dr. Chute, Chair, Dr. Ciani, new teammates, Dr. Zeidler and Dr. Greer and my fellow colleagues in the School of Health Professions. NYIT’s vision is to meet societal needs, locally, nationally and globally and I look forward to contributing to this vision.

Special thanks to the students I have had the pleasure of working with - you inspire me and I pass the baton to you!

"Life is a Journey of Trials, Tragedies & Triumphs. Keep the Faith and Keep Moving."

M. Austin-McCain.

NYIT Honors

  • Nominated - NYIT’s 31 Women of March, 2013
  • Clinical Educator of the Year, NYIT Dept. of Occupational Therapy, 2012
  • NYIT Athletics Hall of Fame, 2008
  • Outstanding Alumni Award, NYIT Dept. of Occupational Therapy, 2002
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Excellence & Contribution to Minority Community Award, NYIT, 2000
  • Outstanding All-Around Student, NYIT Dept. of Occupational Therapy, 2000
Contact Us

Occupational Therapy
Old Westbury
Riland Academic Health Center, Room 333
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