Our Students

A student explores ways to help others through recreation

Melissa Lennox is finding new ways to help people and prepare for her career through opportunities in the College of Health and Human Development and at Penn State.

Melissa finds helping others very fulfilling, especially people with disabilities—which is why the Therapeutic Recreation option of the Recreation, Park and Tourism Management (RPTM) major is a perfect fit for her.

“All of my life, I have been involved in extracurricular activities, whether it be sports, clubs, or school plays. At a large school like Penn State, I decided it would be best to get involved within my major (RPTM) and my option (Therapeutic Recreation) so that I could get to know others in my field, get more experience, and give others opportunities for involvement,” says Melissa.

Her desire to work with others for her career really took flight after taking RPTM 277 (Recreation for Persons with Disabilities). This class, taught by Dr. Ralph Smith, professor emeritus of recreation, park and tourism management, used a mixed approach of books, videos, guest speakers, and creative assignments, such as using a wheelchair for a day and then writing a reaction paper on what life was like in a wheelchair.

“This experience was very eye opening and something that I will never forget,” says Melissa.

After graduation, Melissa plans on taking a certification exam to become a certified therapeutic recreation specialist (CTRS). Completing an internship is giving her the experience she needs and that will prepare her the most for this. In her internship, she is a recreational therapy assistant, working forty hours each week, getting hands-on experience with children with disabilities.

 “Not only has being part of the College of Health and Human Development been a positive learning experience, it has also given me several opportunities for personal growth and achievement,” she says. “At a large university like Penn State, being a member of the College of Health and Human Development has provided me with a chance to stand out, while still feeling included.”

Melissa graduated during the 2009-10 academic year. Learn more about current students in the College of Health and Human Development.