Name: Kyla Madden
Hometown: Belchertown, Massachusetts
Major: Recreation Management and Policy: Therapeutic Recreation Administration
Graduation Year: 2019
How would you explain your major?
Therapeutic Recreation is the purposeful use of recreation activities to improve function and quality of life for individuals with disabilities or illnesses. We get to work with people to find out what their goals and interests are and help them to better engage with the world. I am fortunate enough to focus my work/research on those facing life-threatening illnesses (i.e. cancer) and learn just as much from them as they learn working with me.
What do you like about your major?
I wish everyone could see how valuable and versatile it is. On the surface, it may seem like "just" play and fun, but it's so much more. What we do is intentional and therapeutic. Activities may look like blowing bubbles or playing a
game, but in reality we are helping that person improve lung capacity or practice frustration tolerance skills. And at the end of the day, especially for kids, play is an essential part of life that we all need access to.
How is your experience at UNH preparing you to achieve your goals?
The research process has taught me how satisfying it feels to be able to contribute to a field you're passionate about. I am passionate about supporting children/families with illness and with the support of my faculty, and I was able to conduct research and make legitimate recommendations on how we can help people. Now, I want to do more, which I never would have guessed!
What do you consider your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is slowing down and finishing experiences. There is so much pressure out there to figure
out what's next and where we are going, but it's important to be present. I have loved and gained so much from my time here at UNH, so I'm trying really hard to appreciate the end of my time here and not just jump to the next
What motivates you?
The people I work with are my biggest motivators. I have had the privilege to work with a lot of people (both through my UNH program and other opportunities) who are facing some of the hardest challenges life can throw at a person. Having the chance to go forward and create research or work in the field in a way that might help people is so immensely motivating. The individuals I've worked with have taught me countless things over the years, so the least I can do is try to contribute.
Looking back on your time at UNH so far, what are you most proud of and why?
I'm most proud of the connections I've made at UNH. I can honestly say I've never felt happier or more at home than in Durham. Through mutual interests and especially RMP, I have made life-long connections with both peers and professors. I look forward to collaborating and recreating with them beyond this program.
What are you planning to do after graduation?
I hope to work with children and families managing life-threatening illnesses and contribute to the research base around this population. I am fortunate enough to walk away from UNH dual certified in recreational therapy and child life, so look out for me at a children's hospital near you!
Finally, tell us why you love UNH!
That cliche thing everyone tells you about instantly "knowing" a place is right for you...it's real. I had some interest in UNH, and toured here on a whim. The second my family and I stepped on campus I knew that this was the place for me.