Laura Hapke

Saying Yes to New Opportunities
Laura Hapke

I did my undergrad at UNH and got a bachelor’s in psychology. During my sophomore year, I took RMP 490: Rec. & Leisure in Society, thinking it would be an interesting elective. During a class one of the TR faculty came in and gave a presentation on Therapeutic Recreation as a major at UNH and as a career. That was my “aha!” moment. Throughout the whole presentation I was just thinking “This is it! This is what I want to do!” I had never heard of TR before, but I had worked at a summer camp with girls with disabilities and loved every minute of it, so I saw TR as a way to take that amazing camp experience and turn it into a career.

I think some of my most memorable experiences in the RMP department have been from my participation in the TR clinical lab program. I feel like I’ve really grown as a leader and a future practitioner because of this program. It’s also been really awesome that through my work as a graduate assistant I had been able to work at almost every lab site, and with every population this program offers, instead of the standard 2 sites that undergraduate students are assigned to. The RMP faculty went out of their way to put me at different sites as a lab assistant so I could have those different experiences, and I appreciated that opportunity more than they could know.

My favorite aspect of the program is definitely the open and friendly atmosphere of the department. This program is very unique compared to other programs within UNH and at other schools. It’s a very tight knit community; all of the faculty really are rooting for you to succeed and are willing to help you at any turn, as long as you are willing to put in the effort as well. The program itself is great; you graduate feeling ready to enter the profession thanks to all of the “real-world” opportunities built into the program. These experiences really compliment the theoretical and practical information you learn through classes. Whenever someone expresses an interest in being professionally involved in recreation or working with people with disabilities, I always highly encourage them to get in touch with the RMP faculty to talk about the possibilities—that’s how I started out on this path, and I have never looked back.

I would advise any student to use your time wisely and get involved. As a master’s student, I was in a 2-year program, and the time flew by, and I only wish I got more involved right off-the-bat. I would tell future students: “just say “yes” to new opportunities, push yourself out of your comfort zone and do things that make you nervous. UNH RMP is a safe environment to try new things; if you don’t do so great, that’s okay, but you might find a new passion or a new possible career path that you never imagined yourself doing before taking that chance.