Passionate College of Health alum leaves legacy for the future of recreational therapy


When Maurine “Sydney” Post started school at the University of Utah in 1962, tuition was $100 for a full-time student.   There were no classes specifically addressing the practice of recreational therapy. Today, University of Utah students can receive a bachelor’s degree and even a master of science in recreational therapy. They can also receive a scholarship thanks to the generosity of Sydney, who established the M. Sydney Post, EdD, MTRS, CTRS Endowed Scholarship in Recreational Therapy in the Department of Occupational and Recreational Therapy through gifts both during her lifetime and from her estate.

“Education now is so expensive,” Sydney says. “I want to motivate those who have a love and a passion for the profession. I had to have passion or I wouldn’t have stayed in it.”

As a practitioner, educator, lawmaker and entrepreneur, Sydney dedicated her entire career to patients needing more health and less medicine.

Sydney began her practice at Primary Children’s Hospital in both inpatient and outpatient treatment for children needing mental health services.  She immediately began working with the University of Utah to develop a student-training program for students in recreational therapy.

Nevertheless, Sydney did more than teach. She modernized the University of Utah’s Recreation Therapy curriculum, raising the academic standard to better prepare students for certification and employment. She also created classes to address specific populations and diagnoses and taught how to implement prescribed interventions.  Sydney also opened career pathways for RT students and was one of the first recreational therapists to form their own consulting business.

“There are few people who have truly understood the depth of what recreational therapy does for clients. Sydney taught that to her students, and provided it to her clients. She changed people’s belief system about the practice of recreational therapy and the need for clients to have access to RT services,” said Sandra Negley, MS, former Program Director for University of Utah Recreational Therapy.

Sydney’s colleagues and patients continue to fuel her passion. “I still keep in contact with many. Some have found me on Facebook. In fact, I just got an email from a previous patient asking, ‘Who’s a good therapist for my child? I need a Syd for her.’”

Sydney built a career on caring, and that same people-centered approach will serve as her legacy because, as she summed up, “Students need to know that someone cares.”

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