Fellowship Stories: MSOT Graduate Student Talin Mirzaei

Join us in congratulating Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) graduate student Talin Mirzaei, a recipient of the LEAD California Community Engagement Student Fellowship. Through this fellowship, Talin partnered with an adaptive riding program called NDR Therapeutic Riding, a program offering equine-assisted activities (EAA) for people with disabilities.

Why did you choose NDR Therapy for your fellowship?

NDR therapeutic riding is a non-profit organization that provides equine-assisted activities for people with disabilities and or limitations. I’ve always been interested in learning more about hippotherapy and equine-assisted therapy, so when I got this fellowship, it seemed meant to be.

What do you enjoy most about working with the participants?

What I enjoy most when working with the participants is seeing them progress; even if it’s just the slightest bit, it’s a gratifying feeling seeing someone reach their goals.

What have you learned from working with these participants?

I have learned from working with these participants that every individual is unique in their own way, and their goals vary from one another. I’ve learned that patience is key, and being open-minded, flexible, and willing to change things can benefit the client.

How has this experience changed you?

This experience has better prepared me for what my future as an occupational therapist would look like. It has challenged me in ways that put me outside my comfort zone, considering I’ve never worked in an equine setting. It’s been an incredible experience; I’ve grown and learned so much from it.

What do the participants think about working with horses? How do you think equine therapy challenges people, socially, emotionally, and physically?

A rider must be able to understand social cues from their volunteers and the horse, so it challenges how they process information. One benefit of equine therapy is the calming presence of the horse, which allows easier mental processing and lessens anxiety for the rider.

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

Giving back to the community can be a deeply rewarding experience that can bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment to a person’s life. Knowing that you have positively impacted someone else’s life can be incredibly gratifying.

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

This fellowship has helped prepare me for the future as an occupational therapist because I’m learning how to modify things in a setting of an arena and the use of a horse rather than in a traditional clinical setting. Thank you, NDR, LEAD California, and Stanbridge University, for giving me this incredible opportunity.

Watch Talin’s interview and see other outREACH fellowship experiences on our YouTube channel. Learn more about Stanbridge University’s Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program.