Music Therapy Alumni Achievements

Ever wonder what a person can DO with a degree in music therapy? Read on to find out about the exciting accomplishments of some of our recent graduates!

Undergraduate Students:

Lauren Bonavitacola, BM (Music Therapy, 2009) is pursuing a graduate degree at Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology where she is also employed as a research assistant.

Michael Contreras, BM (Music Therapy, 2006) was hired at his internship site, Matheny Medical and Educational Center in Peapack, New Jersey. He works with children and adolescents with developmental disabilities.

Susan Dugan, BM (Music Therapy, 2008) was hired at her internship site, Big Bend Hospice in Tallahassee, Florida. She provides music therapy for patients facing terminal illness and their families.

Allison Gifford, BM (Music Therapy, 2009) provides music therapy at Allegheny Valley School in Philadelphia for individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Diana Le, BM (Music Therapy, 2009) was hired at her internship site, University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. She works with a variety of clinical populations, including patients with mood disorders, patients hospitalized for general medical and surgical reasons, as well as patients with high-risk pregnancy and oncology patients. During her internship, Diana was awarded the Delaina Hodgson Memorial Music Therapy Intern Scholarship from the Association of Ohio Music Therapists.

Natalie Llera, BM (Music Therapy, 2007) is working as a music therapist on the inpatient psychiatric unit at Atlanticare Regional Medical Hospital in Pomona, New Jersey. Her work focuses on helping adults with mental illness.

Caitlyn (Willis) McLean, BM (Music Therapy, 2005) works as a privately contracted music therapist for various preschools and child care centers in the Minneapolis area. She provides therapeutic services for children with and without developmental disabilities.

Elizabeth Stockton, BM (Music Therapy, 2009) was hired at her internship site, the Bruce W. Carter Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Miami, FL. Her patients include individuals receiving substance abuse treatment, nursing home care and neurorehabilitation. Elizabeth has developed some innovative programming on the job, such as the Miami VA Guitar Program.

Daryl (Heater) Synowiec, BM (Music Therapy, 2004) is a full-time music therapist at Pasadena Child Development Associates, Inc. in California. She works with children and families with various needs, using music to facilitate communication and build relationships within the family. Additionally, Daryl is pursuing a Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University.

Colby Vann, BM (Music Therapy, 2007) is a graduate student in the University of Minnesota’s Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences Program. She has also been working as a music therapist for typically-developing children as well as children with autism.

Andrea (Brooks) Velez, BM (Music Therapy, 2005) is currently pursuing a masters degree in Special Education at Norfolk State University. In addition to her studies, Andrea works part-time as a substitute teacher with children who have autism.


Graduate Students:

Amy Kalas, MM, MT-BC (Music Therapy, 2005, 2010) provides music therapy to young children with developmental disabilities at United Cerebral Palsy of Miami. She recently completed her master's degree in music therapy at the University of Miami. In addition, she started a private practice, Wholesome Harmonies, where she provides music therapy at various locations throughout the community.

Daisaku Kamahara, MM (Music Therapy, 2003) Daisaku (“Sako”) works full-time as a rehabilitation therapist at the Oasis Rehabilitation Center, Inc. located in Indio, CA. He provides therapeutic interventions for patients receiving short or long-term psychiatric care. Sako’s facility has also been approved as an AMTA Music Therapy Internship Site, so his job duties now include supervision of interns.

Yani Rubio, MM (Music Therapy, 2001), BM (Music Therapy, 1997) established the music therapy program at Creative Children Therapy (CCT), a non-profit clinic in Miami, FL that serves children and adolescents with developmental disabilities or neurological disorders. Yani collaborates with occupational and physical therapists, as well as speech/language pathologists to promote children’s physical development, communication skills and social/emotional functioning. In this setting, Yani also provides clinical supervision for University of Miami music therapy practicum students.

Xueli Tan, MM (Music Therapy, 2004), BM (Music Therapy, 1997) is pursuing her doctorate in music at the University of Iowa where she was awarded the prestigious Presidential Fellowship to support her studies. Xueli has extensive clinical experience and has received numerous other accolades, including the 2008 First Place Professional Winner of the Blair L. Sadler International Healing Arts Award given by the Society for the Arts in Healthcare. Xueli has also been appointed as a member of the Board of Directors for the Society for the Arts in Healthcare.

BriAnne Weaver, MM (Music Therapy, 2007) provides music therapy services for individuals with severe to profound disabilities through the Ann Storck Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Kie Yamada, MM (Music Therapy, 2008) works at Atascadero State Hospital in California where she provides music therapy for patients with mental illness in a forensic setting.

Lori Kleinman, Ph.D. (Counseling Psychology, 2000), BM (Music Therapy, 1986) currently resides in Tampa, Florida where she works as a licensed psychologist, music therapist and professional flutist.

Hayoung Lim, Ph.D. (Music Education with Music Therapy Emphasis, 2007) Dr. Lim is now Assistant Professor of Music Therapy at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. Her dissertation research explored the effect of Developmental Speech and Language Training through Music on speech production in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Julie Stordahl, Ph.D. (Music Education with Music Therapy Emphasis, 2009) Dr. Stordahl is currently a visiting professor of music therapy at Queen’s University of Charlotte. Her dissertation explored the influence of music on depression, affect, and benefit finding in women following treatment for breast cancer.

Therese West, Ph.D. (Interdepartmental Studies, 2003), MM (Music Therapy, 1999) Dr. West is currently Assistant Professor of Music Therapy and Music Education in the Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. Her research examines music’s effect on acute stress related to hospitalization, disease or medical treatment.