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Recreation and Leisure Administration seniors look back on York College experience with excitement for the future

January 27, 2017
Lindsey Starner and Peri Weinfeldt
(Left to right): Lindsey Starner '17 and Peri Weinfelt '17

Reflecting on their college experience, if there’s one piece of advice seniors Peri Weinfelt and Lindsey Starner would offer next year’s crop of freshmen, it’s this: Be open to new experiences and consider starting out undeclared.

“It’s OK that you don’t know what you want to do. One day it will just click, and it will change your life,” Lindsey said. “Even if you do know, it’s still OK to explore and see what’s out there.”

Both young women came to York College of Pennsylvania with plans to major in Elementary Education with a focus on Special Education, but they found themselves second-guessing that choice.

Lindsey loved the idea of working with kids with disabilities, but she was worried about being confined to a classroom. The deeper Peri delved into her major, the more she realized it wasn’t a good fit for her.

Both women stumbled into York College’s Recreation and Leisure Administration program after talking to peers and professors about their concerns and options for the future.

A flexible career

What appealed to Lindsey about the degree was the opportunities it offered to help people from infancy to senior citizens and that the work would give her the opportunity to participate in activities ranging from swimming to horseback riding to camping to rock climbing.

“Finding out I could still be active and still do my job and help people with what they needed is really fulfilling to me,” Lindsey said.

Last summer, she interned at a six-week day camp with the Easter Seals in York, working with kids with a variety of disabilities including autism and spina bifida.

She relished the opportunity to connect with the camp participants. One experience that stuck with her was trying to teach sign language skills to a non-verbal individual so he could communicate. After working with him for six weeks straight, he finally did his first sign.

“It was very emotional and exciting,” Lindsey said.

The future awaits

Both women are keeping their options and minds open about what they’ll do after graduation. 

Lindsey will need to complete a second internship, and she’s investigating opportunities at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals or rehab centers to give her a chance to work with adults. 

“I want to try as many different settings as I can so I can rule out what I do and don’t like,” she said. 

Peri’s goals are more personal.

Her grandfather had spent time in a nursing home before passing away, and the experience was unpleasant, she said. So, it was fulfilling to take the Therapeutic Recreation and Aging course, where she could plan programs for seniors and then perform those programs at a local nursing home.

There was one male resident who always seemed to light up when she visited. She said it was rewarding to know she helped him have a better day. 

Proud to be a Spartan

Peri plans to move back home to New Jersey and begin looking for positions as a certified therapeutic recreation specialist at nursing homes or in-home treatment.

“I thought I could make other older adults experiences’ better and try to accommodate them as best I can,” she said.

No matter where they end up, both women said they appreciated their time at York College – especially the chance to develop one-on-one relationships with members of the faculty.

Peri said her professors offered good advice, were always eager to help students and respond to questions quickly.

“It’s been very positive, and I’ve made some great memories here,” she said. “I’m proud to be a Spartan.”