Meet Parmida Zandinejad

Meet Parmida Zandinejad, a junior at The Episcopal School of Dallas, who started as a volunteer and is now an Assistant Program Director. “My time with ACEing Autism has solidified my desire to help people, go to a Pre-Med school, and it has taught me a lot about myself,” the varsity tennis player shared.


“The last three years with ACEing Autism have shown me a lot of characteristics about myself I didn’t know I had, like what it takes to be a good leader, and it helped me be even more open minded,” she said reflecting on her time with ACEing Autism. 


As Parmida shared what has made her comeback to ACEing Autism every session, she explained that the bond you create with the participant has truly been special. “For example, there is one participant who hugs me every time he seems me, every week, and starts talking to me about his job. Getting to know them personally, being someone they can come to and talk to is very special, and that’s why I keep coming back,” she emphasized.

“But seeing their improvements is one of the best parts as well. Watching them improve and watching their excitement is super rewarding for me.”


As we continued our conversation, her passion for giving back, for giving athletes the best experience shone through. So, it was only natural to ask her, “where does this passion for volunteering come from?” And without skipping a beat, she explained that “my mom volunteered on the weekends working with kids with autism and down syndrome and I helped her sometimes, so it sparked my interest. In addition, my parents are generous so it’s where I get it from,” she laughed.


Generosity is something she definitely inherited as she also volunteered for Buddy Up and fundraised for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. “I led two 7-week fundraising campaigns where I was able to raise a total of $55,000,” she recalled. At only 17 years old, she has already managed two successful fundraising campaigns by leading a team of 15-20 people to raise funds, find sponsorships, and build communications to find donors. Her impressive resume as a high school junior is only matched by her energy, her desire to better herself, and help her community. In three years, she has gone from a shy freshman – as she said herself – to a confident Assistant Program Director who can handle multiple projects at once. “I wasn’t very talkative at first, but moving up, I learned that I am able to lead, communicate with all kinds of people, and I have found a more confident version of myself,” she reflected. “ACEing Autism has also taught me a lot about commitment, for instance I did not think I would get to the place I am in today, so I saw how important it is to show up to get those roles.”


As we near the end of our conversation, she also shared how much of an impact the participants have had on her. “The bond I make with the participants each session is amazing and that’s something I wasn’t expecting but I’m so thankful for.”


Thank you Parmida for your unwavering dedication to our families and your community! We can’t wait to see your impact in the years to come!

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