Mallorie Parsons '16
Mallorie Parsons ’16 grew up with an affinity for the ocean and the animals that call it home. Originally an aspiring marine biologist, Parsons made her way from her native Delaware to Florida after high school to attend Southeastern University; however, it did not take long for Parsons to discover that marine biology was not for her.
Parsons transferred to Radford University after hearing about the Recreation, Parks and Tourism major and its three unique concentrations: Tourism and Special Events, Recreation Therapy and Outdoor Recreation and Leadership.
“I decided I wanted to do all three concentrations, because they gave me so many different avenues to take after college,” said Parsons.
Each area of study prepared Parsons for her current job working for Island Dolphin Care (IDC), a small nonprofit organization in Key Largo, Florida. IDC provides dolphin-assisted therapeutic programs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and children and families with special needs.
The Recreation Therapy concentration requires students to complete a 14-week long internship in addition to their classes, which Parsons completed at IDC. She credits this concentration with getting her the job and helping her obtain the hands-on experience she needed to prepare for her day-to-day duties at work.
“I get to work one-on-one with kids and adults with special needs. We do classroom therapy sessions where we can really focus on the goals they want to achieve. Then, we transition them into the water where they get to do an interaction with the dolphins,” explained Parsons. “When we have people in the water, it’s a lot of smiles."
Parsons also coordinates IDC’s Veterans Program, which aims to help veterans bond with their families and reintegrate into their communities. Due to the generousity of the organization’s donors, every interested veteran is able to participate.
“The feedback we’ve gotten from a lot of our veterans is that they were able to enjoy the moment, they were able to leave their worries behind and they felt more at peace,” said Parsons. “You don’t always see it at first, but then you hear from them later on and [realize] it has helped them get to a better place.”
Veterans have the opportunity to participate in individualized programs and group therapy programs. Parsons learned a lot about group leadership, specifically, while working at RU Outdoors as an undergraduate and pursuing the Outdoor Recreation and Leadership concentration.
“The Outdoor Recreation [and Leadership concentration] was amazing, because it taught me how to come together as a whole with different groups that have different personalities, strengths and weaknesses. We also worked on group intervention and learned about some of the more outdoorsy aspects of everything, which was great because now I work outside every day,” explained Parsons.
Her advice to current Highlanders is to get involved in extracurricular activities and programs at Radford and take advantage of opportunities to interact with professors.
“My professors were amazing – so supportive and helpful in every aspect. I could always go by their offices and talk to them,” said Parsons. “Me getting the internship [at IDC] was because my academic advisor really pushed for it. The professors at Radford really go out of their way for students. They know so much, and they truly care about your path.”
To learn more about IDC, visit https://islanddolphincare.org/.
July 24, 2019