Occupational Therapy Albany, NY

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, low vision, traumatic brain injury, autism spectrum disorder, physical dysfunction, and the effects of aging. 

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 programs. 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


Maria College‘s associate degree program for occupational therapy assistant has been recognized as one of the best in the nation by The Community for Accredited Online Schools. As a leading resource for higher education and college accreditation information, the site released its annual ranking for the 2016-2017 school year, honoring Maria College as the 20th nationally ranked school. Contact us today for more information. 


Occupational Therapy Programs in Albany, NY
Pictured: Scott Homer, Lisa Deserre, Karyn Shenker-Gould, Meghan DeNitto

Full-time Faculty

Scott Homer ’95, MS, OTR/L, Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Director and Health Sciences Department Chair.  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. Scott 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 DeNitto ’99, ’00, BS, COTA/L, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator. An experienced COTA, vision rehabilitation therapist, and fieldwork educator, Meghan 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. Lisa 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 received her degree in occupational therapy from New York 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.

Jake Ashby, MBA-H, OTR/L, CAPS, CEAC, Instructor. Jake is a graduate of Keuka College and Union Graduate College and is currently pursuing an Education Doctorate at Creighton University.  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.

Adjunct Faculty

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.

Holly Lockrow BS, OTR/L, Adjunct Instructor, Weekend Program.  Holly is an Occupational Therapist for Troy City Schools.  Her experience has been primarily with pediatrics for the past 18 years.  She has had the opportunity to work in various settings throughout her career, including acute care, rehabilitation, hand therapy, outpatient physical disabilities and early intervention.

Nancy Matusiak ’07, BS, COTA/L, Adjunct Instructor, Weekend Program. Nancy 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. Kelly 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.


The Associate in Applied Science Degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant program aims to graduate students who:
  • Value occupation as the therapeutic agent integral to the profession and that drives human engagement in the context giving meaning, focus, and purpose to one’s life.
  •   Exhibit work behaviors reflective of the profession’s philosophy, ethical principles, unique knowledge base, and practice guidelines to safeguard clients, that results in accurate and effective documentation, and that follows laws that define and support the delivery of occupational therapy services in a competitive local and global healthcare market.
  • View health and illness as a continuum that fluctuates from a sense of total well-being to a state of physical, social, and/or mental disability in which therapeutic occupation is used to promote health and provide opportunities to adapt to one’s changed circumstances.
  • Utilize clinical reasoning to demonstrate competency in the analysis and application of skills appropriate for client-centered and occupation-based therapeutic interventions with individuals, groups, and populations in a variety of settings and contexts.
  • Exhibit professional identity and behaviors consistent with the culture of occupational therapy and employer expectations that includes the ability to effectively communicate and collaborate with peers, with members of related disciplines, and with clients and their significant others. Professional behavior also includes the ability to participate in the supervisory process to promote, establish, and sustain professional excellence.
  • Demonstrate the necessary skills to function effectively in contemporary society including the use of narrative, scientific, and quantitative reasoning; the use of technology for client interventions and documentation of services; and the ability to access the latest scholarly research to promote professional competencies essential to engage in evidence-based best practices.
  • Engage in self-reflection and self-evaluation to determine current strengths, needs, and interests to facilitate preparation of a professional development plan that addresses continuing competency and cultivates new interests consistent with an appreciation for lifelong learning.


The total number of graduates from the Maria College Occupational Therapy Assistant Program during the 3-year period of 2014-2016 was 166 with an overall graduation rate of 85.1%. 

Maria College OTA Program Graduation Rates

Graduation Year Graduates Entering/Graduating Rate
2016 79/74 93.7%
2015 68/54 79.4%
2014 48/38 79.2%
TOTAL 195/166 85.1%

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 coursework.