The Alumni Spotlight is a feature of the Alumni Advisor, our email newsletter, where we sit down and chat with a Millennium HS alumnus about their lives after Millennium. We announce when we plan to write the next feature, so please feel free to nominate yourself or another alumnus by shooting us an email with your name, contact information, and a brief description as to why you think you should be in the spotlight for followup.
Kevin Pei graduated from MHS in 2012 and is now a Paddock Master at GallopNYC, an organization that uses therapeutic horsemanship to help riders in NYC with disabilities walk, talk and learn. Kevin is a very dedicated member of the MHSAA, and you can often hear how knowledgeable he is about horses if you’ve been to one our meetings. Read more below about Kevin and his experience at GallopNYC.
1] Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Manhattan in Greenwich Village, I graduated from MHS in 2012, pursuing a career in Equine Assisted Therapy.
2] Tell us about what you’re doing now.
I volunteer at GallopNYC as a Paddock Master, meaning that I help get horses ready for therapeutic riding lessons, but I also do a lot of barn work throughout the day. Prior to this I was a Site Leader, which is an assistant to the instructor and helps volunteers with therapeutic horseback riding.
3] How did you get into joining Gallop? What made you stay?
I answered an ad on Facebook from GallopNYC looking for volunteers to help out at the Riverdale Equestrian Center and I haven’t looked back since. What made me stay is that I got to combine my two loves: horses and children.
4] What is the most rewarding about it?
Honestly everything that I do is the most rewarding, but the one memory I have is when I was up at Riverdale, I had a student that was non-verbal or supposedly non-verbal, speak their first words which were, “Walk on.”
5] What are the greatest challenges?
Not having enough volunteers is my biggest challenge, GallopNYC thrives on volunteers to do what we do. Volunteers do not need any experience with horses because Gallop will train them when they get on site.
6] Let’s talk about skills. What skills do you think are most essential to your profession? What did you have to learn to achieve this goal?
Honestly everything, public speaking, people skills, attention to details, basic horse knowledge and care, I mean the list goes on and on. I have better-developed public speaking skills, because every now and again I will be teaching people how to lead walk*, as well as being involved in helping instructors teach during lessons.
7] What was your proudest moment about your work/life?
My proudest moment in my work is really making an impact on kids who are underserved or don’t have a voice for themselves. But also the fact that I have finally started to embrace my Equestrian lifestyle makes me happy, because I get to enjoy being around horses and kids, so I am one proud and happy person right now.
8] What is on your wish list for the future of work/life?
My wish list contains one major event: getting my certification to teach therapeutic riding. The certification process is from Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International. There is a written test and a video supplement where I am recorded teaching a therapeutic riding lesson. Also, as long as I am attached to a therapeutic riding center, I will be in “school” for the most part, because I will have a mentor that has already gone through this process.
9] What advice do you have for other alumni/current MHS students about doing what you love?
Show confidence when doing tasks because once you say, “I can’t”, you have already failed, because those two words have already set you up for failure.
To read more about GallopNYC and how you can get involved, visit their website here.
*Lead walking is the process of teaching a horse to calmly walk or trot with you on cue without any pulling or resistance from the horse