Occupational therapy major finds unique opportunity to give back to the community

Holihan embraces a sheep.

Not a bad position

Analena Holihan '19 is using the experiences she developed on four international service learning experiences as well as an occupational therapy major at a farm close to our campuses.

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nalena Holihan ‘19 has always been passionate about helping others and volunteering in the community.

As an occupational therapy major, she has participated in multiple international service trips in high school and college.

At the start of her junior year, she found an exciting volunteer opportunity at Nadeau Farm — a non-profit rescue farm that’s home to a variety of livestock and goat yoga close to our Mount Carmel Campus.

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“I grew up on and around a farm as a child and I always had a soft spot for sheep because they are so calm and are extremely kind,” said Holihan. “When I was younger, my mom or omi could find me napping in the stables with my sheep.”

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In high school, Holihan traveled to Nicaragua on four service trips where she built houses and taught in local schools. After dedicating her time during school breaks internationally, Holihan wanted to make a difference in the local community.

She will be volunteering this semester with the owner of Nadeau Farm, where she does everything from milking goats to preparing for goat yoga. As part of her course last semester, she learned about the benefits of animal assisted therapy.

“At my fieldwork location, the children with disabilities would practice reading to the classroom pet pig, the benefits were endless and it decreased the stress level and pressure for the students,” said Holihan.

Holihan holds a glass beneath a goat.

Farm living is the life for her

Holihan milks a goat as part of her experiences at an area farm.

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“Working at goat yoga shows me the real life transformation of an individual's mood based off of what they are participating in,” added Holihan. “Watching the progression of people’s emotions from being around animals and the therapeutic benefits of it is one of the many reasons why I am considering going into animal assisted therapy.”

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Goats stand on people.

Helping others live their best lives

Holihan participates in goat yoga at the area farm.

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Goats soak up the sun.

The occupational therapy curriculum focuses on keeping people engaged in what their interests are and encourages them to to use their interests to help them improve on other areas in their life.

“I recently had a knee surgery which provided me with a lot of setbacks,” said Holihan. “But the physical activity and strength required to volunteer at the farm has me working on strengthening my knee without me even realizing it.”

She is also a member of the Occupational Therapy Honor Society and is a sister of Alpha Chi Omega, as well as an RA in the freshman residential area.

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“Volunteering at Nadeau Farm is something that I enjoy doing during my free time but I find it beneficial because I am engaging in a meaningful occupation and that is what occupational therapy is all about,” said Holihan. “As an occupational therapy major, I am taught to keep clients occupationally balanced.”

While working at Nadeau Farm Holihan is able to focus on staying occupationally balanced when it comes to balancing between school, sleep, friends and fun.

“At the end of the day, when all of the stress between classes and extracurricular activities pile up, it is refreshing to be around a different environment,” she added. “Sometimes all you have to do is remind yourself to just 'goat' with it.”