Ironically, exercise science major Milana Asadpour was raised in a family with little interest in sports, but she did take ballet and was involved in rowing, and that brought her into the world of athletics. She always found herself attracted to math and science and felt that this major was a perfect blend of her interests. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she feels that many students are struggling with resumé building and competitive internships that will provide career opportunities in their future. She also knows that the lack of social interaction creates a sense of loneliness and isolation. Read more about Asadpour’s experiences as a UConn student.
What attracted you to the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources?
The UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources encompasses all of my interests. There were not many schools that I applied to that offered an exercise science program. CAHNR conducts research not only in the health science field but also in sustainable agriculture and the changing climate, which are both important to me. The CAHNR is versatile and inclusive and overall a great environment I am proud to be a part of. I knew when my acceptance came from UConn that this is where I was meant to be!
Why did you choose your particular major?
Growing up, I always knew I wanted to work to help people, especially with medicine. It was not until my senior year of high school that I realized exercise science should be my major. I was a rower for my county and had the most amazing time being a part of a team and getting to be on the water every day. Unfortunately, my time was cut short when I did not make it past tryouts my senior year and had to say goodbye. My confusion and anger led me to want to study every aspect of being an athlete and sport injuries. In my eyes, if I could not be a part of a team as an athlete moving forward, I would be a part of a team as an athletic trainer. My goal now is to use my love for rehabilitation and my exercise science degree to get a master’s degree in athletic training.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why?
Being I was only on campus for roughly a semester and a half before being sent home, I was not employed or working at an internship during my first year. However, my most memorable aspect from UConn was the people. Regardless of what I was there to study or to achieve, my greatest accomplishment is the relationships I made with friends and faculty. It is difficult transitioning from high school to college, but the people I found at UConn made the transition so easy and made saying goodbye so heartbreaking. The greatest decision I made was pursuing my education at UConn, and I could not be more in love with the UConn community and my family there. I look forward to building new connections with faculty and friends as I get closer to graduating.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies.
During winter break of my freshmen year, I had the opportunity to shadow my high school’s athletic trainer. This was my first experience really seeing someone do what I loved up close. I was able to witness and take note during rehabilitation segments, out on the court for real time basketball games and on the sidelines for wrestling matches and tournaments. Being able to see so much of the actual application of what I was learning/going to learn was so motivating. There is so much to learn outside of a lecture hall that when I returned for the spring semester, I was 100 percent sure I was on the right path. I came back motivated, educated and honestly just excited to work hard to get to where I dreamed about being.
Although unrelated to exercise science and UConn, my current job has taught me a lot more than I ever could have imagined. I started as a sales associate several months ago, and after three short weeks I was promoted to a manager. I had a few years of retail experience and knew that I loved to work in my spare time, so I took the promotion. Taking the step from associate to manager was a big change and required me to essentially change my outlook. I was now in charge of things I never needed to worry about before, and I was suddenly the person people came to for help. The new title came with many new responsibilities, long hours and overall added stress. I went from working fifteen-hour weeks to now working close to thirty-hour weeks. I have never been so determined to finish my schoolwork ahead of time and to give up my habits of procrastination. I know this job is not the work experience I need for my future career in athletic training, however I am learning how to manage people, communicate effectively, set goals for others and help them achieve them. I have seen growth in myself as a leader and a student that I can honestly say I would not have expected at this age. I still have so much time left at UConn and cannot wait to build on my skills.
What has been the biggest challenge in your UConn career?
The biggest challenge, which I am currently still overcoming, is the mentality of wanting to do it all. I came into college knowing how important these next four years were and how I needed to seize every moment and opportunity. I not only want to succeed academically, but I also want to work while in school to be financially stable. I would also like to stand out in terms of extracurriculars and involvement on campus. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, but there are so many things I want to accomplish to fully feel like I used everything offered to me. I believe every student wants to succeed and be well rounded, but time management and prioritization comes into question when I reflect on my time at UConn. The biggest challenge is knowing there is no set itinerary for each day. I will have to decide what will make me stand out and what will take me the farthest.
When do you expect to graduate? What then?
I expect to graduate in May of 2023. I will be attending school for my master’s degree (possibly at UConn!). I hope to travel eventually with a sports team, helping injured athletes train to get back to doing what they love.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your studies or research?
Unfortunately, my time at the University of Connecticut was cut short my freshmen year. I was still settling into the rhythm of college and campus life when I had to make the switch to learning at home. I am currently still learning and studying at home in New Jersey, which has definitely impacted my goals. With COVID-19 levels constantly fluctuating, my family is doing their best to keep everyone safe, which means minimal socializing and minimal experiences. Two years ago, I thought I would be getting hands-on experience outside of class, possibly shadowing individuals and researching. Right now, my life consists of attending online classes and working part time in retail. The top priority on everyone’s mind is safety and health, which means research and internships have been put on the back burner for now. Although the pandemic has taken campus and resources away from me, I am still so excited to return eventually and get back on track with all I wish to accomplish.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
Despite my love for athletic training, I actually don’t know much about sports. My favorite memory from UConn last year was going to the men’s hockey game in Hartford, which was my first real time sporting event. I went with my roommate and best friend, Aria, who loves hockey, and I am so glad we got to share that amazing memory. I now love UConn hockey and am so excited to attend more events!
I also really really want a Corgi when I am older because they are so cute!