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Andrea Scala, CTRS '14

Hometown: Mahopac, NY
Major: Therapeutic Recreation

“Working in therapeutic recreation means you’re always doing something new. You never know what to expect, so you have to be on your toes. It’s fun and rewarding.”

Andrea was in her sophomore year at Manhattan College when she realized she needed to make a change. At the time, she was still undecided on a major, but knew she wanted to work with children in a helping profession. She spoke with her cousin, who was a therapeutic recreation major at St. Thomas Aquinas College, and the pieces fell into place.

Andrea transferred to STAC for her junior and senior years and earned her degree in therapeutic recreation in 2014. Now, she works as a recreation counselor at Blythedale Children's Hospital in Valhalla, New York, where she helps children restore motor, social and cognitive functioning through the creative arts, games, and other recreational activities and programming.

“I am never bored in this job. Every day is different because each patient has his or her own unique conditions,” Andrea says. “It’s definitely not your typical 9-to-5 desk job.”

She says that when children first arrive at the hospital, they are nervous and often frightened. The recreational therapy program helps soften the transition and gives them something to look forward to.

“Recreation is a good distraction for these children, and it takes them back to a happy place,” Andrea says. “It’s a way for them to feel at home and make friends who are in similar situations.”

While at STAC, Andrea volunteered at Dowling Gardens, a senior living community in Rockland County and interned at Andrus on Hudson, a skilled nursing and short-term rehabilitation center in Westchester County. She says that although she enjoyed working with the geriatric population, her heart was with children. 

Andrea says she wants to spend her career in the children’s hospital setting, and her goal is to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) in Blythedale’s long-term care unit. She says her job keeps her on her toes, but she wouldn’t change it for the world.

“My job is beyond rewarding. These kids see so many different professionals, but as recreational therapists, we’re ‘the fun people,’” Andrea says. “We get to bring joy to children in difficult times. What more can you ask for?”