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Said Nafai

President and Owner of Forward Motion Rehabilitation, Adjunct Professor at American International College

Said Nafai originally attended Quinsigamond Community College to improve his English skills, but ended up finding a career that he is now using to help others.

When he moved here from Morocco, he could not speak English. “I appreciate Quinsigamond, it gave me the opportunity to learn English and start my career path,” he said. Mr. Nafai attended QCC in the fall of 2000, earning a certificate in English as a Second Language. One day a brochure about the occupational therapy assistant program at QCC came in the mail, he thought it sounded like a good fit for him. At that time, Brenda Marshall, who was the head of the program, encouraged him and served as a mentor. “I am very grateful she believed in me. I would not be what I am today without QCC,” he said.

“The campus was a very friendly environment,” Mr. Nafai said. “I was working full-time while attending school and the flexible schedule was helpful. I also used the tutoring program for ESL and math.”

He then went onto earn his associate’s degree from Quinsigamond Community College in Occupational Therapy Assistant, graduating in 2005, where he earned the Nancy Ohan Memorial Award, as well as being recognized in the Who’s Who, Deans List, and Phi Theta Kappa.

He and his wife, Elizabeth Stevens-Nafai, live in Worcester. They have two daughters, ages 12 and 8. They met at a student exchange program at the University of Salzburg, Austria, before moving to Massachusetts. Thanks to Said discovering occupational therapy at Quinsigamond, Elizabeth also became an occupational therapist and currently works in Worcester Public Schools.

Mr. Nafai is president and owner of Forward Motion Rehabilitation. He is also an adjunct professor of Occupational Therapy at American International College and University of New England (UNE). He is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and board member of the Massachusetts Association of Occupational Therapy.

He graduated from Salem State University, with a bachelor’s degree, and then a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy in 2011. He is now a doctorate candidate at Boston University, with plans to graduate in May 2015. His thesis project is to bring the profession and education program of occupational therapy to his native Morocco.

“We bring passion and commitment to this project as a lifelong dream. Our goal is to improve the healthcare system in Morocco through establishment of an OT education program that promotes the use of evidence-based rehabilitation and prevention services,” he said. For more information about the project, go to

In the fall of 2014, he took UNE Health and Wellness and Occupational Studies students to Morocco for service learning work, visiting orphanages and senior centers. He has presented at the state, national and international levels on the need for occupational therapy in Morocco, as well as other relevant research topics related to occupational therapy.

Since he attended QCC, he has watched the QCC occupational therapy assistant program expand. “Even though the program was small at the time, they had a vision and kept it going. Now it is a much larger program. I am grateful QCC continued to support it, it’s an amazing program,” he said. “QCC is a great resource for Worcester and has grown to meet the needs of the city and state’s population. There is room for a global impact from QCC, I am proof of that.”

Mr. Nafai stated that being named as a QCC Guardian is a lifetime honor of the highest order. “Quinsigamond offered me so much support in the beginning, and now I am finishing my doctorate at BU, which would not have happened without QCC as my foundation,” he said, “With hard work and good will, QCC can get you where you want to go in life.”