Occupational Therapy Assistant Program

Occupational Therapy Assistant Program

If you have a passion for helping people, for restoring dignity and helping to rebuild lives, then a career in occupational therapy may be for you.  Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) help people with many concerns, including developmental disabilities, vision rehabilitation, traumatic brain injury, geriatrics and physical dysfunction, outpatient and home care, and autism.

The mission of Maria’s Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is to give students a quality academic and clinical education in preparation for work with individuals of all abilities, ages, and from various cultural and socioeconomic groups.  The program is based on the altruistic and compassionate values shared by the occupational therapy profession, and the College’s founders, the Sisters of Mercy—both acknowledging the value of human differences and individuality.

Occupational Therapy courses are offered in the Day Division and Weekend College. Courses are taught in a combination of lecture, discussion and demonstration, with active participation being vital to student learning. Clinical experience is offered in a variety of traditional settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, mental health facilities, developmental centers and schools. emerging areas of OT practice in community and social systems are used to reflect local current trends in health care. Clinical laboratory and fieldwork education are scheduled during the day hours for all students. Students in the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Program may need to be certified in CPR and/or fingerprinted with background checks to meet individual clinical site requirements.  A prior felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT Certification Exam and/or attain state authorization/licensure.

The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is accredited by the:
Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200
Bethesda, MD 20814-3449
Phone: (301) 652-2682



Pictured: Scott Homer, Lisa Deserre, Karyn Shenker-Gould, Meghan Malone

Full-time Faculty

Scott Homer ’95, MS, OTR/L, Assistant Professor, OTA Program Director and Health Sciences Department Chair. Homer has been involved with all aspects of the OTA curriculum. He has extensive clinical experience as a COTA and registered occupational therapist (OTR), is a regular presenter at the New York State Occupational Therapy Association annual conference, and teaches workshops on anatomy, kinesiology, and neurology. Homer has a master’s degree in OT from Utica College of Syracuse University. His chapter, “Ensuring Purposeful and Meaningful Interventions,” is featured in the textbook, Foundations of Theory and Practice for the Occupational Therapy Assistant.

Meghan Malone ’99, ’00, BS, COTA/L, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator. An experienced COTA, vision rehabilitation therapist, and fieldwork educator, Malone teaches at Maria, coordinates all fieldwork, and works as a COTA in pediatrics. She has a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and psychology from Excelsior College.

Lisa Deserre ‘79, BS, COTA/L, Instructor. Deserre has over 25 years of OTA teaching experience and has worked in a variety of inpatient mental health settings. She has a BS in health science from Excelsior College.

Karyn Shenker-Gould, MA, OTR/L, is an Assistant Professor and Weekend Program Director of the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program. Karyn was valedictorian of her class at NYU School of Education, and is currently pursuing a PhD in OT from Nova Southeastern University. Karyn has held various clinical positions, with her primary experience working with adults with neurological disorders such as spinal cord and brain injury at Mt. Sinai, New York Presbyterian and Glen Falls Hospitals. Karyn also has extensive experience working with the pediatric population, having worked at the New York City Board of Education as well as for two outpatient pediatric clinics in Manhattan and Latham.

Adjunct Faculty

Jake Ashby, MBA-H, OTR/L, CAPS, CEAC is an Adjunct Instructor for the Occupational Therapy Assistant and Healthcare Management Programs. Jake is a graduate of Keuka College and Union Graduate College.  He has been a practicing occupational therapist since 2003 and has experience in home care, inpatient, outpatient, and long term care. He has worked locally and in the northwest US, holding positions ranging from staff therapist, team leader, OT department manager, and chief of rehab services. Jake also served in the US Army, deploying to Iraq, Africa, and Afghanistan. Jake is the owner of Ashby Adaptive Occupational Therapy, PLLC, which provides in-home occupational therapy, home modification and accessibility consulting. His professional interests include environmental modifications, neuro-rehab, health systems operations, and health economics.

Kari Benson, PT, DPT, is an Adjunct Instructor for the Occupational Therapy Assistant and Health and Occupational Sciences Programs. Kari received her BS in Physical Therapy from SUNY Health Science Center, Syracuse NY in 1992. She received her doctorate in PT at Sage in 2012. She has a diverse background through clinical experiences, and specializes in pediatrics. She currently works in the school system and at The Center for Disabilities.

Nancy Matusiak ’07, BS, COTA/L, Adjunct Instructor, Weekend Program. Matusiak is a COTA for Ichabod Crane Central School District. She has a bachelor’s degree in physical education and draws on her knowledge of human anatomy and physiology during therapy sessions and teaching. 

Kelly Reed ’12, COTA/L, VRT, Adjunct Instructor, Weekend Program. Reed is a vision rehabilitation therapist and COTA at Lighthouse Guild Healthcare in Albany. She works with adults who are visually impaired and have chronic medical conditions.

Teaching Assistants

Jennifer Carrk ’00, MS, OTR/L, Teaching Assistant, Weekend Program. Carrk’s OTR experience includes providing rehabilitation for geriatric patients and for children and young adults with significant disabilities. She earned her MS in OT from Sage College.

Adrienne Whelly ’11, MS, OTR/L, Teaching Assistant, Weekend Program. Whelly is an OTR at Capstone Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Amsterdam, New York. She has an MS in OT from Utica College.


The total number of graduates from the Maria College Occupational Therapy Assistant Program during the 3-year period of 2014-2016 was 165 with an overall graduation rate of 84.6%. 

Maria College OTA Program Graduation Rates

Graduation Year Graduates Entering/Graduating Rate
2016 79/73 92.4%
2015 68/54 79.4%
2014 48/38 79.2%
TOTAL 195/165 84.6%

Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) can be found online at: https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx


  • OCT 117 (Fieldwork I) consists of at least 40 hours of service learning throughout the semester.
  • Fieldwork requirement in the final semester—Following successful completion of all academic coursework, students must complete Fieldwork II courses OCT 216 and 217, each consisting of eight weeks full-time clinical rotations, for a total of 16 weeks.  OTA students must successfully complete all Fieldwork II assignments within 18 months following completion of academic course work.


  • OTA Fee – $100/semester
  • OTA Senior Review Seminar/Testing Fee  (OCT 230) – $250
  • Malpractice insurance – $20/year