Grad profile: A second act

Mark Naipaul, Health

- May 30, 2022

Mark Naipaul. (Provided photo)
Mark Naipaul. (Provided photo)

This article is part of a series focusing on the grads of the Dalhousie Class of 2022. Spring Convocation runs from May 24 to June 3 in Halifax and Truro. Read all our profiles here as they are published, and for more information visit the Convocation website.

Name/Preferred Name: Mark Naipaul

he / him

Degree (plus any previous degrees):

BSc (Recreation) - Dalhousie University
BEd - Lakehead University
BA (Physical Education) - Western University

Where you’re from: Currently live in Halifax with my spouse and two daughters. I was born in Trinidad, grew-up in Toronto.

How significant is it for you to receive this degree?

Returning to university after a full career was an opportunity to start something new. recreation therapy, and subsequently physiotherapy, are professions that are very different from my work with the government. I see this degree as allowing me to continue to serve my community in a much different way but one that I believe will be very rewarding.

What were the highlights of your degree?

Coming into Recreation Therapy, all the students were required to attend the Recreation Orientation (Rec O) weekend. It was an opportunity to meet fellow students and faculty in a fun and interesting camp setting. Little did I know at the time that Rec O would become a major part of my learning experience while in the program. I joined Rec O as a facilitator and followed that by becoming a coordinator and making decisions about how to provide a Rec O experience during COVID-19. I was part of the leadership group that provided a virtual Rec O experience when students were not on campus in classes. It was a great learning experience and one that allowed me to support other students in the program.

What will you miss about your time at Dal?

While I will be returning to Dal in the fall, I will miss the Recreation Therapy cohort. We were a small group to begin with and we were made smaller during COVID-19. We have become a tight group who have supported each other through difficult times. I will miss this group greatly and hope only the best for all of them.

What was your journey to Dal and to this program?

I returned to school at Dal after retiring from the federal government and relocating my family to Halifax. I intended to pursue a degree in physiotherapy which is what I had been working toward prior to starting a career. While looking at educational options, I learned about the BSc (Recreation) program and thought it would be a good fit for my future interests. I was not disappointed in my choice of program as it not only prepared me for physiotherapy, but has allowed me to focus my attention on future career pursuits in therapeutic recreation.

What topics/research/work did you become passionate about during your education?

An integral part of the Recreation Therapy program was the completion of a 16-week internship. For my internship, I participated in a pilot project that introduced recreation therapy to the inter-disciplinary team at the Dalhousie Social Work Community Clinic. During my 16-weeks, I worked closely with Social Work and Occupational Therapy students to provide comprehensive treatment to community members in need of community supports. It was a unique experience to provide recreation and leisure-based therapy to community members. This is an area that is being developed by recreation therapists, but it remains a unique opportunity to work in community. I worked closely with clients who identified themselves as being socially isolated, having reduced motivation, and desiring to increase their leisure awareness. As COVID-19 restrictions were loosened, I was able to participate in community outreach with clients which including conducting community walks that allowed clients to engage in leisure activities outdoor and make connections that reduced their feelings of isolation. This internship experience was both satisfying and educational.

How did COVID-19 impact you during your studies?

Like many other students, I started my degree with the intent of attending in-person classes and working and meeting with other like-minded students. COVID-19 meant that classes moved online for a good portion of my degree. While I had the opportunity to connect with my cohort and then move those relationships online, I really felt that students who entered school during COVID-19 were at a disadvantage in terms of experiencing all that university has to offer.

What’s next for you?

I am going to enjoy the summer with my family before I return full-time to Dal in the fall in the Master of Science in Physiotherapy program (MScPT). When I finish the MScPT program, I hope to use physiotherapy and recreation therapy to support the well-being of veterans with PTSD and physical injuries due to their service.


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