Fellowship Stories: MSOT Graduate Student Niya Custer

Join us in congratulating Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) graduate student Niya Custer, a 2022 Stanbridge University Presidential Community Impact Fellow. Through this fellowship, Niya partnered with an adaptive dance program called Down For Dance to empower individuals with Down syndrome to build a stronger sense of self through dance. 

What have you learned from working with Down For Dance?

Volunteering with Down for Dance has broadened my understanding of the benefits of creative arts and its positive impact on people with disabilities. Down for Dance promotes self-expression, is all-inclusive, and helps build lasting friendships and a sense of community.

How has this experience changed you?

This experience has helped me learn valuable skills that will help me in my future career as an occupational therapist. For instance, being vigilant and proactive as a volunteer during dance is crucial to minimizing disruptions. My communication skills improved with instructor feedback, like using high-frequency phrases to support our dancers.

What do the dancers think of the classes?

After listening to the dancers, I learned that they enjoy dancing, socializing with their peers, and being taught new dances. They enjoy performing at events and taking part in community events.

Why do you think it’s important for occupational therapy students to give back to their community?

I think it’s important to engage in meaningful occupations with people and learn the values and importance these occupations might mean for someone. It’s an incredible way to connect and learn new things.

How has this fellowship prepared you for a future in occupational therapy?

Thanks to this experience, I plan to continuously include creative arts in my future career as an occupational therapist. I want to continue promoting inclusion and acceptance that people learn in different ways.

Watch Niya’s interview on our Instagram, and learn more about Stanbridge University’s Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program.