Serving the Underserved Through Occupational Therapy
Few students can boast a perfect academic record, but Amanda Caruso (M.S. ’18) completed her five-and-a-half year occupational therapy program at NYIT School of Health Professions with a 4.0 GPA. She graduated in May 2018 as valedictorian of her class. “I really credit my professors for doing such a great job teaching me and always being available to answer questions or offer help,” says Caruso, who recently passed her national board exam and is applying for jobs as she awaits licensure. “They really go above and beyond.”
Caruso’s interest in occupational therapy developed in high school while volunteering at an after-school program for children with Autism. “I saw how the therapists worked with the kids and it fit well with passion for helping others,” she says. Her interest in NYIT stemmed from a closer relationship—her father is an alumnus. “The campus is beautiful and everyone was so welcoming,” she says. “Small classes allowed me to form strong connections with professors and peers. It’s a great atmosphere for students; everyone helps each other to succeed.”
Caruso particularly enjoyed the many service and volunteer opportunities available to her. This past spring, she was one of seven NYIT students who participated in a service-learning trip to Charleston, W.Va., a community with poor access to proper healthcare. She helped conduct interactive workshops addressing a variety of health needs for community members of all ages.
Caruso drew on her fieldwork, which is an important component of the occupational therapy program, to explore additional opportunities. She spent eight weeks at the Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center in Roslyn, working primarily with geriatric patients with dementia; did physical disability fieldwork at the Townhouse Center for Rehab and Nursing, gaining exposure to a myriad of diagnoses including traumatic brain injuries and cardiac and orthopedic needs; and completed an assignment at an elementary school, where she saw 48 students a week. “I feel like my fieldwork really shaped me as a professional,” she says.
Caruso looks forward to building on that real-world experience in her first job. Eventually, she’d like to pursue a Ph.D. in occupational therapy and teach at the college level. “My NYIT professors were all great role models,” she says.