With 7 new staff members joining Wolf this year, it’s been incredible getting the opportunity to introduce them to you in our We Are Wolf interviews! Today, we’d like to showcase our new Occupational Therapist, Nicole Braga-O’Neill!
1. Can you briefly tell us about your background?
I am originally from MA but currently reside in RI. I got my bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Worcester State University and went back to pursue both an associate’s degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, and then a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at New England Institute of Technology. I knew I always wanted to work with a population with differing needs, as I grew up with a cousin with special needs, but I didn’t find Occupational Therapy until I went to college. In my professional experience, I have worked with both adults and children and have found that both populations come with such unique experiences. I most recently have worked in a pediatric outpatient clinic and that is where I have really gained more experience in sensory processing and its impact on functioning.
2. What made you decide to pursue OT?
Occupational Therapy was the middle ground between the people interaction that psychology lent me, but also the scientific desire that my brain had when pursuing a career. After undergrad, I began a pre-med track but found that I was losing sight of that direct patient care. Occupational Therapy is so holistic that it allows practitioners to look at the whole person and really dive deep into what their needs are from all angles. I love working on sensory processing, fine motor skills, and executive functioning skills!
3. What are you most looking forward to in regards to your role at Wolf?
My role at Wolf lends me the flexibility to work on so many skills that may be restricted in other settings. I am able to integrate Occupational Therapy skills into all aspects of the academic day. I can incorporate sensory processing in science, then work on motor planning and executive functioning during math – the opportunities are endless!
4. Why do you think OT is such an important component in learning for Complex Learners?
Occupational Therapy is so important for Complex Learners because it is the foundation for all other areas to build off of. When we fine-tune sensory processing, self-regulation, and fine motor skills, it will allow the child’s body to access other areas of their environment.
5. What is your favorite thing about Wolf so far?
Everything! The students are wonderful and my teams have made this transition into the uniqueness of Wolf very easy. I love the teamwork the most. We are all working on all areas of need as a group to support the student as best we can.
6. Who do you look up to/admire?
A previous supervisor of mine, Tabatha, has really been my inspiration for all things OT-related. She provided me with support and training in the area of sensory regulation, hands-on experience with more physically impaired diagnoses, and just overall support as I navigated the world of OT as a new grad. I owe my foundational skills, and self-confidence in the area of pediatric Occupational Therapy to her. She also is just a wonderful OT and Mom overall, and I aspire to have the balance she does.
Welcome to Wolf, Nicole! In just a few short months, you have already made such an impact on our students and school. We are thrilled to have you as part of our community! Want to read more? Check out past We Are Wolf interviews!