About Debra L. Collette

Sometimes things that seem too good to be true actually are true.

For example, if you’re a caring person with an interest in science, there’s a career path waiting for you that pretty much offers a guaranteed job.

Okay, there is a bit of a catch. It requires completing your master’s or doctoral degree in the Occupational Therapy program at Sage (bonus: Sage offers several undergraduate programs that link to the graduate program in Occupational Therapy and make it possible for eligible students to complete a bachelor’s degree and graduate degree in less time than it would take to pursue the degrees individually.)

The Occupational Therapy master’s program has a record of 100% passing rate of certification exams, and 100% job placement.

Debra Collette, the program’s director and one of its professors, believes the prime reason for this success is that, “We hire faculty with extensive clinical experience who have a real passion for teaching.”

That certainly matches her own story. Professor Collette worked in occupational therapy, in a school environment, for 19 years. Finding that she loved mentoring students considering her profession, she pursued and earned a clinical doctorate and began teaching at Sage.

What most of her students have in common, she says, is that they are positive, caring and motivated. And, they like the idea that they’ll be helping people of all ages, from infants to the elderly, and they’ll be able to work in a variety of settings, from schools and hospitals to rehabilitation centers and nursing homes.

The Occupational Therapy master’s degree program is designed to be completed in two and a half years. Two years are spent on academics, with the final six months out in the field. The academics part includes work in well-equipped lab settings, and working with real people in the community with real medical issues. Research is also conducted by teams of students, leading to presentation and several publications of findings.

The doctoral program is completed in three years, with a few additional courses each semester, beginning the second summer, and a 14-week doctoral capstone experience following Level II Fieldworks.

When the program is completed, Professor Collette says, students can choose to work practically anywhere they want. But maybe most important of all, she says, “They leave the program feeling confident and competent, ready to practice entry-level Occupational Therapy.”

Recent Courses Taught

OTH 512 Technology & Adaptations in OT Practice
OTH 514 Occupational Performance in Children & Youth
OTH 567 Research Methods for Health Professionals
OTH 616 Evaluation & Intervention: School-Based Practice
OTH 617 Evaluation & Intervention: Early Intervention Settings
OTH 622 Fieldwork Seminar
OTH 626 Level I Fieldwork: Pediatrics
OTH 669 Research Seminar I
OTH 670 Research Seminar II
OTH 702 Leadership and Education

Research Interests

Pediatric Science
Child Hand Development

“We hire faculty with extensive clinical experience who have a real passion for teaching.”

Debra L. Collette, OTD, OTR/L

Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy & Program Director, MSOT and OTD

Selected Publications

Hardman, L. J., Thompson, M., Collette, D., & W. Gaughan. (2019, October). Critical reading skills in graduate students–Take II. Podium presentation at the 2019 AOTA Education Summit, Las Vegas, NV.

Pineda, R., DeGaetano, S., Kindra, M., Hand, T., Craig, J., Fernandez-Fernandez, A., & Collette, D. (2019). Neonatal therapy: A survey of current practice. Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine: An Interdisciplinary Approach, 1 (2019) 1–10. DOI 10.3233/PRM-180565 IOS Press.

Collette, D., Brennan, P., Brix, A., DeRoma, N., Muir, B. (2018). Proloquo2Go enhances classroom participation in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 1-8.

Collette, D., Anson, K., Halabi, N,. Schlierman, A., & Suriner, A., (2017) Handwriting and Common Core State Standards: Teacher, occupational therapist, and administrator perceptions from New York State public schools. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71, 7160220010

AOTA Fieldwork Educator Certification Program, Multiple locations 2012-present (Elacqua, M. & Collette, D.)

Collette, D., Elacqua, M., Bernal, K., DeJesus, A., & DiBiaso, K. (2020, March 26-29). Giving Back to the Profession through Fieldwork: Perspectives from a National Survey (Poster Session). AOTA Annual Conference, Boston, MA. (Conference cancelled).

Fette, C., Collette, D., Ponsolle-Mays, M., Rai, G., Leigers, K., Majeski, K., & Olson, L. Conversations That Matter 302B: Opportunities for occupational therapy practitioners in reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act to Every Student Succeeds, AOTA Centennial Conference, Panel Discussion Preparation, April 1, 2017

Collette, D. Response to Intervention: Where are we in New York State? NYSOTA Annual Conference in Syracuse, NY. Podium Presentation, November 2, 2016.

Allen DC. & Elacqua M. Fieldwork supervision toolbox for working with the challenging student, NYSOTA Annual Conference, Albany, NY. Podium Presentation, November 6, 2014.

Allen DC. Child hand development, NYSOTA Annual Conference, Rochester, NY. Podium Presentation, November 10, 2012.


Journal Reviews

  • OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health
  • Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy (CJOT)
  • Sensory Integration: Theory and Practice, 3E
  • American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT)

Educational Background

Rocky Mountain University
Post-Professional Doctorate, Occupational Therapy (concentration in Pediatric Science)
Utica College
B.S., Occupational Therapy