Huntington’s Kailene Abt Receives Healthcare Award from Touro College

Occupational Therapy Graduate from Bay Shore School of Health Sciences is Recognized for ‘Helping Others Live Life to the Fullest’

March 03, 2017
Kailene Abt

New York, N.Y. –Touro College graduate Kailene Abt of Huntington, N.Y. was the recent recipient of the prestigious Maimonides Award in Occupational Therapy (OT) for demonstrating the highest professional ideals of a healthcare professional.

As an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame, Abt majored in sociology, minored in education, and played lacrosse. All of those pursuits, she said, challenged her to work hard academically and athletically and “prepared me for Touro’s rigorous graduate program.”

But it was her brother Kevin −who passed away after suffering from a severe form of muscular dystrophy− that largely inspired Kailene to pursue a career in Occupational Therapy at Touro College School of Health Sciences in Bay Shore. “He was a talented songwriter and believed that every day is a gift,” said Abt. “He demonstrated that you can attain your dreams no matter the circumstances. His loss reinforced that the only way I would truly be fulfilled is to help others live their lives to the fullest.”

Abt chose OT as her future career while working at Huntington’s Special Education Summer Program and observing how occupational therapists contributed to the educational and functional outcomes of children. “Occupational Therapy made complete sense to me as a necessity in peoples’ lives. I knew then that this was what I wanted to do,” says Abt.

“I had heard that students in Touro’s Occupational Therapy program are always the most prepared for clinical rotation,” added Abt, “and I truly believe in the mandatory volunteer credit requirement that Touro has instituted. I think it is an important part of schooling for all students in any program.” Kevin’s occupational therapist, Eleanor Cawley OTR/L, was Abt’s mentor and a Touro graduate whose training Kailene said, “helped prepared me for my career.”

Abt, who also received an OT department award for outstanding clinical achievement, completed clinical rotations at facilities including Adelante of Suffolk County, Inclusive Sports and Fitness− an organization founded by Touro OT Professor Alex Lopez, Oyster Bay School District, and Momentum at South Bay Rehabilitation and Nursing.

Abt believes students can learn better when they “get out of their comfort zone.” One of her most transformative moments happened while working at a pediatric sensory gym− a structured environment that helps children with special needs develop their sensory, communication and motor skills using anything from swings and foam tumble blocks, to puzzles. “My treatment plans were being challenged. One day my supervisor said, ‘Kailene, you are treating symptoms and not going for the underlying cause.’ This changed not only the way I thought about treatment in the setting I was in, but also across all settings,” said Abt. She credits Touro’s faculty as being “comprised of brilliant minds with diverse experience,” who were supportive and always made time to help.    

Prof. Blanche Leeman, Abt’s faculty advisor at SHS praised her former student. “Kailene has an astute intellect, a persistence to overcome adversity, and embraces learning as a lifelong entity,” said Prof. Leeman.

Abt passed her OT boards in January and plans to begin her career in Boston.


About the Touro College and University System

Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 18,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has 30 campuses and locations in New York, California, Nevada, Berlin, Jerusalem and Moscow. New York Medical College; Touro University California and its Nevada branch campus; Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division; as well as Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Ill. are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to: