Scranton On The SpOT, Spring 2024 Edition 1

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Senior Students Volunteer in the Dominican Republic

In late January 2024, a team of fourteen senior OT students and two faculty chaperones traveled over 1500 miles to engage in a transformative Level I fieldwork experience bridging professional healthcare attributes with global awareness initiatives. Students and faculty traveled from Scranton to San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic (DR), a community plagued by poverty, unjust healthcare, and inadequate education, to partner with Cambiando Vidas (meaning “changing lives”). Cambiando Vidas is a grass-roots organization of the DR linking the United States and DR through the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Through a complete house build in under five days, foundation to fixtures, a healthcare pop-up clinic for a community with non-existent healthcare and hands-on experience observing and also treating clients in an interdisciplinary rehabilitation center, Asociacion Dominicana de Rehabiltacion Filial San Juan, both Scrantoncommunity and DR-community members achieved just that. Every day included immersive activities focusing on the daily life, language, customs, and cuisine. While the San Juan DR community lacks resources, healthcare, and education, they do not lack connectedness. The OT Scranton group was welcomed in and became a part of this community for a short week. As the trip closed and many hugs and tears were shed, each member knew that this was an experience they would never forget. Through this experience of uniting healthcare and humanitarianism, the group created bonds with one another and also with those whose lives they touched. While physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging, each member was changed and will carry their new knowledge into their future careers as therapists and as engaged citizens of the world to do for others.

If you are a current junior interested in this fieldwork opportunity, please be on the lookout for emails from Dr Nealon

Title Spring2024Edition1 NewsletteroftheOccupationalTherapyDepartmentatTheUniversityofScranton


We are so excited to share that the Department of Occupational Therapy has been awarded the Leahy Grant to start up a Go Baby Go chapter here on campus! Go Baby Go is a national community outreach program that provides adapted ride-on cars for children with limited mobility, allowing them to engage in play with their peers. The OT department will work in collaboration with students from the mechanical engineering departments to create approximately 12 adapted cars for members of the local community. Students will be divided into teams and will work together for the entire semester providing necessary modifications for their specific child. Children and their families will be invited to the University on May 5th, where they will be presented with their cars. A big shout out to Professor Stephanie DeNaples for helping bring this program to the Scranton community; we are so excited to be a part of this program.



Night to Shine is an annual, worldwide, event available to any person living with a disability age 14 and up. This prom night was held at Lives Changed by Christ (LCBC) in Dickson City on February 9th, 2024. The night consisted of 150 guests each partnered up with a buddy, including some of our very own SOTA members! To start the night, the buddy and the guest participated in a red carpet entrance and the guest could pick if they wanted to get their shoes shined or get their makeup done by other volunteers. The buddies and guests then got their picture taken by a professional photographer for the guests to take home. The night had many options for the pairs to participate in including karaoke, a photo booth, a limo ride around the center, and two dance floors with DJs. The night was a blast and SOTA can’t wait to do it again next year!


SOTA partnered with the Arc of Northeastern Pennsylvania for another fun-filled night of dancing in the Long Center. The Arc is an organization led by parents in search of public education for their children with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The theme for the dance was Valentine’s Day; families and their children came decked out in outfits with red, pink, and hearts. SOTA members volunteered to set up the event, work the snack table, dance with the attendees, and clean up. Members decorated the Long Center with Valentine’s Day hearts and streamers, and a DJ played great music that got students and attendees on their feet. Led by community service co-chairs Nicole Kenny and Rebekah Thompson, 45 plus SOTA members made this event possible. The dance was a success and SOTA cannot wait for the next one!


Students in their third year complete a clinical fieldwork experience in the pediatrics setting. Justin Matzner, from Stonybrook, Long Island, completed his pediatrics fieldwork at the Paley Orthopedic and Spine Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida. This is an outpatient/hospital-based setting. Matzner was exposed to the process of making splints, casting, and more. He observed the interdisciplinary team including occupational therapists working with children who required intensive treatment post-orthopedic surgery. Many of the children receiving services had dwarfism and arthrogryposis and were recovering from correction and lengthening surgeries. Justin was able to meet and interact with clients from all over the world, as the Paley Institute is offering treatment that many other countries do not have. “This place is so amazing and is changing the lives of so many. Some of my favorite things I’ve been a part of at the Paley Institute was that I got to go on rounds in the hospital with the interdisciplinary team and check on patients. This experience overall was outstanding and I definitely want to work in this type of setting in the future,” Justin shared with me. Paley Institute also has locations in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi, and Poland. Justin was asked by his supervisor, to create a doll for a patient who was recovering from a rotationplasty, a surgery in which the bottom of the femur, the knee, and the upper tibia are surgically removed in order to treat bone tumors. Following their removal, the lower leg is rotated 180 degrees and then attached to the femur. An image of the doll is provided, courtesy of Matzner.


Members of the Class of 2024 spent their intersessions completing their final level 1 fieldwork rotations in the physical rehabilitation setting, preparing them for their level 2 rotations upon graduation this summer. Emily Umstadt, from Seaford, Long Island, who completed her fieldwork in the Dominican Republic, Emily reflects on this once-in-alifetime experience below:

“This intersession, myself and 13 of my peers embarked on our level I fieldwork experience in San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic. To say this was a life-changing experience would be a vast understatement. During our time in the DR, we helped assist the Cambiandos Vidas program in building a house for a family in need. No, we did not paint the walls and plant flowers in the garden, we carried cinderblocks and buckets of concrete, we laid the floors, and we worked harder than any of us ever had. Not only did we assist in building a home from the ground up, but we also provided a community clinic at the worksite for individuals in the area. In the clinic, we worked in pairs to treat people of all ages with varying conditions. We educated them on body mechanics and ergonomics, as well as used interventions such as therapeutic massage and stretching to alleviate pain. In addition, we were also able to go to a rehab center in which we observed and assisted with OT and PT with both adults and children. While I can only speak for myself, I think it is safe to say that each one of us was immensely moved by this trip, and will never forget our time in the DR. From the people we met, to the help we provided, to the home that stands as a physical representation of the hard work and love put into it, this fieldwork experience was unforgettable. Thank you to the OT faculty for providing us with such an amazing experience, and muchas gracias to our new family in the DR for welcoming us with open arms."

Student-Athletes Shine in and out of the Classroom

Scranton Women's Swim and Dive Team Has Legendary Season

The 2023-2024 Scranton Swim & Dive season has been one for the books as they ended with an 11-1 record at the conclusion of their season in February. This team proudly represents 4 outstanding student-athletes who are also assets to the occupational therapy department: Michelle Kong (Senior), Nicole Kenny (Senior), Alanna Kelly (Junior), & Emily Kane (Sophomore). They also went ahead to bring home the Landmark Championship title from Baltimore, Maryland on February 18th where they competed against 9 other Division III teams throughout the duration of the weekend. Kelly placed 3rd in the 200 breast, 4th in the 100 fly, and 3rd in the 100 breast, Kong placed 6th in the 200 fly, 6th in the 100 fly, and 16th in the 200 back, Kane placed 8th in 1m diving, and Kenny swam the 500 free, 200 back, and 200 free. They represented the school’s morals, drive, and passion during this weekend and we are proud of everything they have accomplished in and out of the pool.

Scranton Women’s Basketball Team Continues Championship Streak

The Scranton Lady Royals traveled to Washington DC on Saturday, February 24th to play against Catholic University in the Landmark Conference Tournament Championship. The Lady Royal‘s roster consists of 3 OT students who shine and excel both in the classroom and on the court. Senior Mackenzie Steele and firstyears Natalie Stoupakis and Meghan Lamanna played their hearts out and came out on top with a 57-48 win, over the number one seed, capturing the title for the ninth year in a row. The Lady Royals have secured a spot in the NCAA tournament and will continue to represent the Scranton OT department in post-season play We wish these student-athletes the best of luck as they finish out this outstanding season We are so proud of you all!

OT Student Highlights

Students Participate in Winter Holiday Concert

The occupational therapy department is honored to have had four of its students participate in the University of Scranton’s 56th Annual Noel Night holiday concert on December 2, 2023.

Congratulations to Kasey Samalot, Rosa Azzato, Sarah Baker, and Erin Bailey on a beautiful concert. The OT department takes pride in our students being well-rounded, involved members of the university community. Well done to these students, keep making us proud!

Comparing First Year and Grad Students’ Definitions of Occupational Therapy

For each individual in and out of the field, Occupational Therapy can have varied definitions. From the time you are a young first year just starting to learn the basics of OT, to your 5th year grad program, the odds of seeing the career in the exact same way are very slim. First-year student Sophie D’Antonio defines OT as “An opportunity to connect with people and give them a chance to have a greater well-being in their life. With OT, more people can be advocated for and given the chance to lead a more fulfilling life. As an OT you have to see the person as a whole and work with them using their meaningful activities and occupations to help improve their mental and physical health.” Her definition is based on only what she knew coming in, and less than two full semesters of OT classes. To Grad Student Alexis Angstadt, OT is “Not a one-size fits all profession. It is a client-centered rehabilitation approach that combines both the mind and body systems and how they interact with the client's activities of daily living and desired functioning. It is a unique career that allows therapists to work in any setting and with every population.” Her definition is based on 5 full years of OT classes, labs, and fieldwork. With just these two samples it's clear to see how everyone's experience with the field is unique to them, and seeing how a first-year and a grad student's perspectives differ, offers great insight to all we learn and experience during our time in this program.

Faculty Publications

Sending a huge congratulations to our outstanding professors who have recently had work published!

Dr Wisniewski recently co-authored the following article : Fetherman, D , Schumacher Cohen, J., Cocieru, O., Dumancas, G., Snee, B., and Wisniewski, P. (2023). Implications of a Community-Based Learning Faculty Fellows Program to Facilitate Teaching and Learning in the Jesuit Tradition. Jesuit Higher Education: A Journal, 12 (2), 201-212.

Dr. Budash co-authored two chapters in the new book, Health System Management and Leadership, edited by Van Wye and Lunsford. The chapters include chapter 4: Current Issues in HealthCare: Barriers and Strategies, and chapter 20: Integration of Health and Wellness Into Physical and Occupational Therapy Practice

Dr Nastasi recently published an article, which is currently available online, that will be published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy: Nastasi, J A (2023) The strategies used by adults with visual impairment. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 0(0). doi:10.1177/0308226231214369

Professional Development Opportunities

Below are opportunities that can be used to fulfill your semester professional development requirements!

OT 231 Practical Volunteers

22 spots will be available (first come, first serve) for the dates of Wednesday, 3/20 from 8-9:15am and Thursday, 3/21 from 8:30 - 9:45 am and 10 - 11:15 am. Please watch for an email from Dr. Nealon within the coming days for volunteers to serve as both clients (any OT year) and evaluators (only junior level or older)

SOTA Speaker Event

3/6 @8pm, LSC 133, speaker Kerrie Hall

SOTA Speaker Event

4/3 @8pm, LSC 133, speaker Dan Panchik Wisdom of Trauma Movie Showing

4/8 7-9pm, LSC 133

SOTA Speaker Event

4/17 @8pm, LSC 133, speaker Jennifer Leiman Scholarship Day

5/13 9-4pm

*In order for SOTA events to count for PD, you must be an active club member*

Interested in Studying Abroad?

Occupational Therapy Students are eligible to study abroad for an intersession or summer program. If you are interested in participating in this unique experince, please contact the of Global Education via email ( and, or stop by the office located on the first floor of O‘Hara Hall.

Use the QR code below to submit news for

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Newsletter Committee: Abigail Gillen- Junior

Emily Kane - Sophomore

Emily Murphy - Sophomore

Emily Umstadt - Senior

Emma Winter- Junior

Erin Adomilli - First Year

Erin Fowler- Senior

Julia Diorio- Junior

Natalie Ward- Senior

Rebekah Thompson- Sophomore

Sofia Bredice- Junior

Kelly McGovern, Associate Editor- Senior Dr. Deborah Budash, Faculty Mentor, Editor

out the OT Department Instagram @uofs ot
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