our students

Wally Maziarz

As a member of the University at Buffalo wrestling team, Wally says that attending UB has given him the opportunity to be a leader both on and off the wrestling mat.

How did you become interested in occupational therapy?

I have always been interested in a helping profession ever since I was a child. I was raised by my father who had many health complications stemming from a motorcycle accident. I saw him struggle and I wanted to pursue a career that would allow me to give back to my father and help him out, just like he has done for me over the years.

I strongly believe the most beautiful people in this world are the ones who have gone through the greatest struggles. Occupational therapy has been a way for me to hear the stories and stand with every fighter, every survivor, and for everyone who has gone through some form of health adversity.

Why did you choose UB?

I had a standout high school wrestling career and was recruited to wrestle for UB. Growing up locally, it made sense to stay right here and give back to the community that has given me so much support over the years. UB gave me the opportunity to be a leader while pursuing my athletics goals and also gave me an opportunity to pursue my dream to help individuals in the field of occupational therapy.

As a four-year starter for the UB wrestling program, Wally achieved 55 match victories and was a three-time All-American.

What courses have you taken while in the occupational therapy program?

The occupational therapy course work is very hands-on. We are afforded countless opportunities to get out in the community and apply what we have learned in the classroom to actually make a difference in the Buffalo area. The faculty does a great job implementing interactive labs with real life scenarios and provides opportunities to work collaboratively with other professions. We also get to take part in community-based projects, advocacy events, research and fieldwork opportunities. As students, we are able to start making a difference right away, making the experience that much better.

What have you enjoyed the most about your experience?

The faculty and staff. I cannot say enough good things about these individuals; they are some of the most dedicated people I have ever met. The program has a family atmosphere and everyone genuinely wants you to succeed. From the very first interaction, it is obvious they are there to guide and help you become the best person you can be. I believe they are one of the reasons UB students are so well-prepared for the future. Their experience, knowledge and devotion to occupational therapy is second to none and they serve as great role models for students in the program.

What are your future plans and what do you hope to accomplish?

I plan to stay within the Buffalo area and strive to make an impact in either a mental health setting or a skilled nursing facility. The best part about becoming an occupational therapist is that there are a variety of settings - traditional and non-traditional - that an occupational therapist can have an impact in, which makes the possibilities endless. I have a passion for working with the mental health population mainly because you can have such a strong impact on an individual’s life. Seeing a change in an individual, and the appreciation that goes along with it, is honestly one of the best feelings and accomplishments I have ever experienced.

Ultimately, I aspire to be the best occupational therapist I can possibly be.  I hope to serve as a source of motivation and inspiration for individuals attempting to overcome health challenges.  I don't know where the future will take me, but I hope to make a positive impact for many years to come.