UConn’s student-athletes are often lauded for their on-field or on-court achievements, but there’s an equally important – often unseen – dimension to the student-athlete. UConn Today’s Student-Athlete Strong series highlights the academic prowess of selected high-achieving student-athletes and provides an inside look at their lives beyond their sport.
Matthew Dagenais ’19 (ENG)
Hometown and high school: Middletown, Connecticut; Middletown High School
Sport: Men’s Swimming
Area of study: Civil Engineering
Anticipated graduation: May 2019
Why did you choose to attend UConn?
I chose to matriculate to UConn because I saw a passion and drive in the student body that I wanted to be a part of. Being immersed in a competitive, nurturing environment was exactly what I needed to start off the next chapter of my life. UConn presented an opportunity to me that I couldn’t turn down.
What’s been your favorite class so far and why?
My favorite class I’ve taken is Geospatial Analysis and Measurement. It was a hands-on lab course that immersed its students in field work. In that class I was able to survey buildings on campus using professional tools, gaining knowledge that I will be able to implement once I get into the work world.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a student-athlete?
Worrying about how I compare with others. A quote I think of often is “Comparison is a thief of joy.” In our everyday lives we are being constantly compared. Here at UConn there are roughly 20,000 students, that’s 19,999 others that can be put up against me. That’s a daunting fact. But for me it goes further, I not only have that hanging over my head, but I have every swimmer in the American Athletic Conference to compare myself to; we all share one goal – to win the conference.
Those thoughts dominated me the first years of my collegiate career, but I had an epiphany recently. Why compare? Why worry about what others are doing? Focus on myself, focus on my own personal education, focus on my own swimming ability, and focus on my own life. If I do those things to the fullest, at the end of the day I can say I was successful, regardless of how my test score fits into the class average or how well the opponent swimming in the lane next to me has done.
What are three words that describe you?
Ambitious, passionate, competitive.
Describe someone you have met on campus who has had a significant influence on you.
In my college selection process, I was able to sit in on some classes with junior and senior engineers. There I saw students at the end of their college career who were preparing for the leap into the work world. Not specifically speaking to anyone in particular, but just being in a room filled with bright, successful students talking giddily about the job they had just accepted, or the design project they had just completed blew my mind. I wanted that feeling, I wanted to be able to say ‘I can do that.’ So it was not just a singular person who has had a profound influence on me, it’s the acclaimed atmosphere.
What academic accomplishments are you most proud of at UConn?
Being named UConn Scholar Athlete on the American Athletic Conference All-Academic Team.
What does it mean to you to be a Husky?
Being a Husky is something that I will take with me forever. It is having the values that make you the best possible person you can be across all disciplines, not just in the classroom. It is developing yourself to succeed in anything you put your mind to. We live in a world where we are measured by our successes. Why not put your best foot forward and be a Husky?