As a senior at Trinity High School, Tara Duffy ’24 had big dreams about college, her career and her future. Then her plans—and her life—were forever changed when she was diagnosed with MOG antibody disease, a rare neuroimmune disorder that causes paralysis, vision loss and a range of other neurological symptoms.
But where many would find hopelessness, Tara found inspiration.
“My road for recovery, especially the many therapists I met along the way, inspired me to learn more about the nervous system so I can one day help others with rare neuroimmune disorders,” she says.
Tara chose UNH Manchester for its neuropsychology program as well as the support and resources from the student accessibility office. She says the most rewarding part of her college experience has been finding a supportive community that allows her to earn a degree while recovering from her illness.
“UNH Manchester has given me a place where I feel like I can succeed while still focusing on my health journey,” Tara says. “The Center for Academic Enrichment has been a special part of my experience, because all of the people there have supported me, built my confidence and given me a safe haven no matter what is going on in my life.”
Tara is also dedicated to supporting others on their academic journeys. She tutors peers in psychology statistics, chemistry, biology and a range of psychology courses at the Center for Academic Enrichment and has also mentored middle school English learners through the college’s ESOL summer program.
Her mission to help people doesn’t stop here. After earning her bachelor’s in neuropsychology, Tara plans to pursue a degree in physical therapy to assist others with rare neuroimmune disorders. This career path earned her UNH Manchester’s Network4Health Behavioral Health Scholarship, which supports students in UNH Manchester’s psychology and neuropsychology programs who plan to work in behavioral health fields.
“I want to help others with rare neuroimmune disorders, no matter where they are in their recovery, to build confidence in themselves again, and to also spread awareness to the healthcare profession about these disorders so that care becomes more accessible,” Tara says. “I hope to help patients physically as well as mentally and emotionally, so they know they are never alone and can see what is possible.”
And anything is possible, Tara says, when you believe in yourself and surround yourself with others who do the same.
“The professors here are there to support me every step of the way, no matter what is going on in your life,” she says. “UNH Manchester has provided me with the perfect environment to grow, to learn and to never feel ashamed of my journey.”