Skylar Blasz found her passion and calling early on in her educational career at Illinois State.

After completing her undergraduate degree in therapeutic recreation in 2019, she enrolled in the recreation administration graduate program and has found a way to impact other students through her own research work.

She has spent the semester conducting research with a goal to help students study for the NCTRC, a national credentialing exam that therapeutic recreation students must take to become officially certified and work in the industry.

Blasz created a list of 15 tips and tricks to help students study, which cater to a variety of different behavioral characteristics and personality types. The list includes creative strategies such as chewing the same flavored gum while studying and testing to trigger memory recall, or listening to music in the same fashion.

She recently presented her research in a virtual session to groups of schools across Illinois, sharing additional information such as exam details, topics, and resources like free study guides, practice tests, and books to help students prepare.

In her work, she also interviewed recently certified professionals and linked together commonalities from their responses to questions, providing insight into how they prepared and passed the test the first time around.  

“I was really nervous about doing this work and presenting it at first. One of the greatest challenges was getting this done during the time of COVID and not having that direct, in-person interaction with people while going through this process,” said Blasz. “Once I got it finished and had the presentation together, it felt really rewarding to know that students could be impacted positively by using my tips. It’s also great to have supportive professors that are proud of their student’s work.”

While she originally wanted to work with children when she began her undergraduate career, Blasz completed an internship at the Jesse Brown VA Hospital in Chicago and found that working with adults and addiction were her true passions.

Blasz plans to take her exam in January after completing the application process and might present her research at a conference next semester. The upcoming semester also holds the possibility of returning to a position at the VA hospital, which she says is her ultimate goal.

Want to learn more?

Visit the School of Kinesiology and Recreation’s website for more information about the therapeutic recreation program and related majors at Illinois State.