Dana Parrott ’24, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Dana Parrott reflects on her time at UConn

Dana Parrott

Dana Parrott '24 (CLAS), a psychological sciences major, on April 15, 2024. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

Originally from Milford, Dana Parrott ’24 (CLAS) was diagnosed with Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy at 7 years old after she started experiencing muscle weakness and feeling as if she “couldn’t keep up.” Since her diagnosis, she’s had to reshape what her life looks like, including becoming a power wheelchair user and enduring multiple surgeries. In Dana’s words, she’s clearly “done something right,” as she’s now graduating from UConn with a bachelor’s degree in psychological sciences.

Why did you choose to go to UConn?
I always knew that I wanted to go to a big school, and I was interested in the sports culture and being part of a “pack.” I also knew UConn’s academics were competitive and after touring campus, I fell in love with it. 

What drew you to your field of study?
I was originally pre-med and focused a lot on biology and the physical body, but in my experience, I don’t have control over my physical body. I have control over my mind. After taking a few psychology courses, I found there are more ways to help people than being a doctor studying physical medicine. Our minds and our mental health are just as important as our physical health. 

Did you have a favorite professor or class?
Definitely shout out to Keith Bellizzi. He’s awesome. I had him only this semester, but he instantly became one of my favorite professors. Also, Jonas Miller, who was my professor but also gave me my first experience working in the Biobehavioral Adjustment and Neurodevelopment (BAND) Lab as a research assistant.

What activities were you involved in as a student? 
I was a part of HuskyTHON, where I was a dancer representative for one year and a morale captain this year. I also was a part of the Brazilian Student Association all throughout college and sat on the E-board for multiple years. I did a lot of clubs like Special Olympics Committee, and I was a mentor through the METAS program with the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center. My biggest extracurricular is that I play power wheelchair soccer, so I commute to Massachusetts every weekend to practice. I’m organizing a tournament at UConn, The Husky Cup, for right before graduation on April 28 at the Field House.

What’s one thing that surprised you about UConn?   
I was surprised at how much UConn can feel like home. I never expected to find so much comfort in a place that wasn’t with my family or where I grew up. 

What was it like starting college during the pandemic? 
It was definitely hard on me because I wanted to be on campus so bad, and I wanted the social aspect. In high school, I had a very hard time, and I was really looking for a fresh start. It felt like the fresh start was delayed. 

What are your plans for after graduation?   
My plan is to try and find work in the psychology field and get experience in research and the mental health field. I eventually want to go for a Ph.D. in psychology. 

How has UConn prepared you for the next chapter in life?   
From my classes, I feel very knowledgeable and confident that as I start in the actual field, I’m not starting from a blank slate. I have knowledge and have worked in a research lab already, so it takes the scariness away a bit. 

Any advice for incoming students?   
Try to get involved as much as you can, as cliche as it sounds. Don’t be too hard on yourself. One bad grade doesn’t mean a bad resume; it doesn’t define you. You’re going to make mistakes and that’s okay; in the end, it will all work out because hard work always pays off.

What will always make you think of UConn?   
Definitely huskies and college basketball.