Sara Izadi Najafabadi

Sara Izadi-Najafabadi

on June 29, 2018
Want create site? Find Free WordPress Themes and plugins.

“I remember when I first arrived at UBC – someone asked me ‘what are you up to?’ and I looked at them blankly. I had no idea what they meant. The expressions people used were very different from what I’d learned at home.” Sara laughs out loud about the misunderstanding, but she uses it to illustrate a more serious point, that the challenges students can face when they arrive at UBC can be unexpected and highly individual.

Sara trained as an Occupational Therapist and while studying for her masters in Iran she read widely, including several papers by Jill Zwicker. After speaking with her over the phone Sara was convinced to apply to UBC, but delays with securing funding and Visas meant she initially accepted an offer to study in the United States.

There, studying abroad for the first time she experienced first-hand the challenges that can come with being a graduate student.

“I had problems some problems with my supervisor. It’s not really pleasant working in an environment where you don’t feel welcome and that affected me personally.”

Sara made the decision to transfer to UBC after ironing out problems with visa and funding.

Her work explores a novel therapeutic approach for children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).  DCD a poorly understood condition that causes children to experience poor motor functions and difficulties in completing the kind of everyday activities their peers do normally.

“They often have low self confidence and find it difficult to integrate into schools. Unfortunately, there’s no standard model of care for children with DCD, so parents are very keen to take part in our study.”

Sara is working with a new approach called Cognitive Orientation to Occupational Performance (CO-OP). It uses the power of cognition to help individual children develop specific skills. The research team use MRI scanning to monitor how the effects of the intervention play out in the brain.

“Parents like the CO-OP model because it’s not so much about teaching children how to perform motor functions but giving them a way of thinking and problem solving.”

“I wanted to pass on my experiences to other students who have similar problems whether that is with funding, transportation or life in general.”

Now, 24 months into her career at UBC Sara is settled, recently married and confident in representing other graduate students. However, she has not forgotten the struggles she experienced at the start of her graduate career, which motivated her decision to stand for the GSS Executive.

“I wanted to pass on my experiences to other students who have similar problems whether that is with funding, transportation or life in general.”

Sara identifies the first few weeks of of a student’s life on campus as critical to establishing a sense of confidence and belonging.

There are the challenges of meeting people. “When I arrived I didn’t know anyone, even my supervisor was away from the country for a month for personal reasons that was difficult. “

And there are the more mundane elements of adapting to a new place. “Where to get groceries, the fact that the public transport system works differently from what you’re used to. I remember when I first arrived, standing on a bus and waiting for the doors to open while the driver was shouting that I need to press to exit.”

Although Sara is an international student she is quick to emphasize that these are problems that all students can face. “The combination of all these things can be very overwhelming for any student and I’d think more could be done to help them feel comfortable on campus. Even something as simple as providing a student transport from the airport to campus when they first land can make a surprising difference.”

As the VP for University and Academic Affairs, Sara’s brief centers on liaising between the GSS, UBC administration, and faculty and teaching staff to improve life for graduate students. She already has strong ideas about what her priorities are likely to be.

“While I know it’s impossible to advocate for each of the 10,000 graduate students individually I really do want to hear from graduate students, so I can understand their concerns and represent them effectively. My door is always open.”

“I want to focus on student mental health. I’ve experienced personally the damage mental health issues can cause and all the evidence says it’s common problem amongst grad students.  I think there can be more support for students from their peers and the University. Many don’t know what services are available or how to access them.”

“I’d also like to explore facilities for students with disability on campus, understanding where the gaps are and how we can make things better.”

Ultimately though she wants to bring some of the skills she has learned as a therapist to work for graduate students.

“One of the best things about occupational therapy is that we try and develop personalised interventions for each child.

Did you find apk for android? You can find new Free Android Games and apps.
Sara Izadi-Najafabadi