In Focus: Karolyn Brosnan
Tell us about your path to Hofstra University.
I began my path to Hofstra by graduating with my Bachelors in Arts from Dowling College Magna Cum Laude. I majored in visual arts and psychology. I was a member of the Honors Program at Dowling and a work-study student for the Visual Arts Department. I was selected to participate in the “Director's Cut” exhibition curated by The Art League of Long Island by one of my professors. It was there that I was introduced to the Director and Assistant Director of the Hofstra University Museum, who informed me about a possible graduate assistantship opportunity. After interviewing at both Hofstra University and CW Post to be accepted into their Art Therapy programs, I decided that Hofstra was a better fit. I preferred the atmosphere, teaching style, and process of entering the field of Creative Arts Therapy.
How did you decide on your major?
I started my freshman undergraduate year with knowing I wanted to major in art. I enjoyed art all of my life and studied it for many years. I knew I didn’t want to become an art teacher because at that time there was little to no jobs in art education. I was introduced to the field of art therapy by a professor. After doing research I decided that it was something I wanted to pursue. To be able to help someone through a media I enjoy so much was exciting. I began taking psychology courses and was fascinated by it all.
What opportunities did you take advantage of at Hofstra?
As I mentioned before, I had an opportunity to become a graduate assistant at the Hofstra University Museum and I went for it. There I completed data entry for the Hofstra University Museum’s permanent collection of over 5000 works of art and assisted with museum exhibition preparation/installation. I also was a member of the Creative Arts Therapy Club of Hofstra (CATCH). As a member, I encouraged students and alumni to participate in the annual Creative Arts Therapy Art Show and developed, produced, and distributed CATCH key chains to students and alumni at Hofstra University's Creative Arts Therapy Conference. One advantage of Hofstra is the bond you will share with fellow students. I also took advantage of a unique experience, Special Topics Residential Art Therapy Experience: Camp Resilience. There, I facilitated group art therapy sessions with fellow students for children in a camp setting who were under-served and under-privileged; particularly children in foster care. This course and experience was something I will never forget and gave me a chance to foster my own resiliency.
Did you encounter any inspiring faculty at Hofstra?
I worked very closely with Dr. Dodie Gillet while writing my thesis. As my thesis advisor, she gave me the skills that helped me stay focused and on task without feeling overwhelmed. Having weekly meetings gave me an opportunity to plan. She personally made me feel at ease and in a time of stress nearing graduation that’s exactly what I needed. I was very nervous to begin because I had no idea what I wanted to research or write about. The way Dr. Gillet eased me into the process of writing a thesis was seamless. I was very thankful for the time and energy she took to edit my thesis along the way.
Did you find mentors among any of the faculty here?
I found all of the faculty members to be a mentor to me. Each and every one of the faculty members wants their students to succeed and be successful in their endeavors. If I ever had a problem or an issue I knew I could come to any one of the faculty in the creative arts therapy program to assist me. The professor’s job in the creative arts therapy program does not end when you graduate. Any questions regarding licensure or registration can be dealt with. Even though I am a graduate of the program, I am still working closely with Professor Elyse Miller as I prepare for the art therapy boards. I love knowing that our student/mentor relationship doesn’t stop in the classroom but continues as I enter the creative arts therapy field as a new professional.
How did your experience prepare you for your future job search?
My experiences prepared me to build rapport with clients and establish a trusting relationship with clients, which is something that the classroom cannot teach you. Being able to experience what art therapy is like and how different facilities run their art therapy programs allows you to gain insight on how you might run your art therapy program one day. Through observing and interacting with clients, these experiences can teach you so much more than if you are reading about it from a book because you can apply these experiences to what you are reading and remember it that much more. Working with a variety of populations also helped me prepare for my job search because you never know how you are going to enjoy working with a specific population until you try. Don’t count any one population out.
Tell us about your current employment.
I am currently working under my limited permit as an art therapist part-time at both Avalon Gardens Health Care and Rehabilitation Center and at Nassau County Medical Center. I am gaining experience and clocking my required hours for licensure and to become board certified.
I am very happy with my start in this field. Having the opportunity to work with a variety of populations including medically impaired, pediatric, adults with dementia, and adult psychiatric residents, along with those dealing with substance abuse and detoxification, allows me to be even more creative with the skills I have come to learn as an art therapist. I am excited about going to work and not many people can say that. Each day brings with it new challenges to overcome and new experiences. I believe art therapy ignites understanding, creativity, transformation, and imagination. I enjoy witnessing this process for my clients as I facilitate the art therapy sessions.
Tell us about your internship experiences.
My first internship experience was at United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau County, Inc. in Roosevelt, NY. I spent my summer there almost everyday. I worked with a terrific group of children and adolescents with special needs in a school setting. I was there to learn and experience the process of art therapy. The children and adolescents at this facility taught me more than I ever thought possible. I grew as an art therapist and it was they who helped me grow. I remember my supervisor said to me my last day there, “You really found your voice as an art therapist this summer.” It made me smile to think that these children and adolescents helped me find my voice. This led me to my second internship at Nassau County Medical Center in East Meadow, NY. I spent the fall of my second year there facilitating individual, bedside, and group art therapy sessions to the following populations in a hospital setting, pediatrics, P.I.C.U. burn unit, maternity, and out-patient adult psychiatric.
Did you receive any scholarships or assistantships?
I was awarded a Creative Arts Therapy Program Tuition Scholarship and the graduate assistantship at the Hofstra University Museum.
What advice would you give to others considering attending Hofstra?
My advice would be to jump into this program feet-first. My decision to attend Hofstra University and become a creative arts therapist was one of the best decisions of my life. Someone once said, “its not what you do that matters, but how you do it.” I owe my success to the Creative Arts Therapy program at Hofstra University. Learn, grow, and transform into the art therapist you know you can be at Hofstra University.