Avrey Pellicane-Mischke ‘14
Therapeutic Recreation Graduate
Owner, Next Generation Dance Studio
"I decided to attend SJC because of the high reputation that the therapeutic recreation program had. I already had a major in American Sign Language, was planning a wedding, and taught dance seven days a week. I knew that, being a little older and busier than most students, starting in a new field that it'd probably be best to find a local school. St Joseph's exceeded my expectations, and the choices I made to choose SJC (distance from home, the degree in TR) was nothing compared to the actual experience I gained while on campus.
"Very soon after graduation I got married, opened up a business and started a full-time job — all within two months from one another. At SJC I felt the professors really gave us the feeling that anything was possible and I guess it was because I had the opportunity to take my wildest dream and make it a reality.
“I direct, own, and teach at a dance studio in East Northport and have implemented a specials need program, music therapy program, sign language program and dance for the deaf. I was able to take the tools and knowledge I learned from class and apply it to the real world."
"I was really fortunate to be working in the field so quickly after graduation. I was able to take the tools and knowledge I learned from class and apply it to the real world.
"I work 40 hours a week at a nursing home and rehab center in Smithtown as a certified recreation therapist — simultaneously I direct, own, and teach at a dance studio in East Northport (Next Generation Dance) and have implemented a specials need program, music therapy program, sign language program, dance for the deaf, and volunteer program aside from our competition teams and recreational class schedule.
"I first went to school for American Sign Language and had a job at an adult day program for deaf and disabled adults. While working there we had to facilitate job like activities but there was no play. Stuffing envelopes took over art classes, sweeping a church was more important then dance and something didn't feel right all the did was work. I searched around for ways to advocate for these people to have more fun and basically stumbled across what I found to be therapeutic recreation. I wasn't crazy, every BODY has the right to have fun."
"At SJC I felt the professors really gave us the feeling that anything was possible and I guess it was because I had the opportunity to take my wildest dream and make it a reality."
Who was your favorite SJC professor?
"Gail Lamberta! She taught me EVERYTHING. All those crazy projects we had to do, I really had to do after I graduated. Her classes were fair but challenging, work load tested as well as taught us something and her classes had a lot of work plus FUN."
What was your dream job as a kid, and how has that vision evolved over time?
"My dream job is to work in Disney. Doing just about anything. Performer, character, event coordinator, parade manager, tour guide for deaf families, show interpreter, costume and set the designer the list goes on... Put me in Disney with a job title of just about ANYTHING and I'd be happy. So how has this evolved? Well, what makes Disney so successful? I have to create that for my self, for my business, while I'm at my jobs, etc... You don't have to work for Disney to act like that.. And that's my philosophy on life to open your heart, be kind, have courage, and believe because if you live with that mindset it'll become contagious to those around you making your life a happier and healthier place."
"You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality." — Walt Disney
What has been the biggest influence on your life?
"My mother. She has always told me and continues to tell me everything will be ok. She is a saint and truly opens her heart to everyone. Our dance studio is not just a place to dance it is a home to many children who have been bullied, upset, and discouraged. With out my mother believing in us we would have never had the strength and guts to start up. I see the way she talks to people and how she can brighten anyone's day and she has such a special way about her when you meet her you instantly fall in love with her caring spirit in soul. She has always been a role model to me."
Aside from content material, what is the best lesson a professor taught you in class?
"Be aware of your surroundings, vote, keep up with current events, network, make connections, be personal, communicate, be a people person, represent who you are."
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
"This is tough! I never thought of that. I think a combination of Anne Hathaway and Anna Farris. Anne Farris is in a lot of comedy movies, we have a similar laugh, sense of humor and I'm often told similar features but she lacks in serious roles, I can't see her playing me when it comes to all my jobs! Anne Hathaway is also very funny, bubbly, sweet, caring, soft spoken but spunky! I can see her standing in front of my dance classes giving inspirational speeches to my classes like I do, she's strong, courageous and has played the part as a business woman and Disney princess."
If you had to give one reason for a student to choose St. Joseph's University, what would it be?
"So far I've had FOUR of my students from my dance studio attend SJC since I've graduated. I usually say it's the best! SJC was close enough to home if you are feeling like you need to stay home but far enough that when you're at campus you get that 'college vibe'. The professors are so smart and interesting, I've learned so much in my short time there. I can't say enough about the education, students and staff!"
What have you learned about yourself during your time at SJC?
"That it's never too late to start something new. I studied American Sign Language for 10 years, graduated with an interpreting degree and it was scary but at SJC I learned that you can start something new, meet incredible staff at a commuter college, and connect with people who share the same interests as you."