Allison Haverkamp graduated from Calvin in May 2011, earning a bachelor of science in recreation with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation. Just a couple months after graduation, she is already working in the field that she feels perfectly suits her personality and interests.
“My passion was in rehabilitation, and when I heard what recreation therapy was, I thought someone had created a job especially for me,” Allison says.
As a recreational therapist at Spectrum Health Rehab and Nursing Center-Fuller Avenue, Allison enjoys viewing people holistically, using the things they love that make them unique, and creating therapeutic experiences. In her work, she assesses, plans, implements, and evaluates patients and residents, in order to provide the best possible care and improve their quality of life.
“When people lose functioning they often feel as though they have lost their life story. They may think they can no longer participate in the things that give them meaning,” says Allison. “Through adaptations, community reintegration and a little creativity, I can instill hope to the hopeless.”
While Allison may be working in her “dream job” now, she realizes that several experiences as a Calvin student helped prepare her and hone her career skills. She participated in Calvin’s Leadership Training Institute at Snow Mountain Ranch, and she worked as an Orientation Leader. Both of these experiences gave her the opportunity to develop as an individual and a leader. In addition, Allison founded the first ever therapeutic recreation club at Calvin to unite other therapeutic recreation majors and promote the profession. During her senior year, Allison was awarded a scholarship from the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, which allowed her to attend their national conference in Washington and network with professionals from across the country. Finally, she had an internship at Spectrum Health Rehab and Nursing Center-Kalamazoo Avenue doing recreational therapy in neurological rehab. The relationships she built at her internship led to her getting hired for her current position.
“My internship gave me hands-on experience and added to the foundation of knowledge I had gained at Calvin,” Allison says. “This foundation prepared me for a career in recreational therapy.”
Now that Allison has graduated, she offers some advice to Calvin students: “Get involved in as much as possible. Volunteer, do internships, make connections. Develop relationships with your professors because they can provide wonderful connections. Explore different career opportunities. Job shadow different professions and see what is out there. Take advantage of the opportunities that Calvin provides to get connected.”
Written by Meredith Segur, posted August 2011