Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Campus Celebrity: Parinda Darden

This week’s campus celebrity is a genuine altruist. She has not only greatly contributed to Conn’s community during the past three years, but she has also left her mark in places such as South Africa and Honduras. Read Parinda’s story here!

Class: 2013
Major: Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology (BCMB)
Project: Effectiveness of HIV/AIDS Treatments on the Children of Botswana

What activities have you been involved with while at Conn?
I’m part of the Science Leaders Program and a CISLA scholar. I used to do women’s rugby and was part of SGA Diversity Committee. I’m also involved in Spectrum and recently formed a longboard and skateboard club, called Conn Coll Skate Crew.

What was your favorite part of your college experience?
My favorite part of my experience here is all the opportunities that I took advantage of such as studying abroad with SATA-South Africa last fall with Marc Zimmer and being in CISLA, and of course all the friends I made here. My abroad experience couldn’t have been better. The SATA-South Africa group studied at Rhodes Univeristy in Grahamstown, Eastern-Cape, where we easily made friends with the local students, took awesome trips to Ado Elephant reserve, Port Alfred Beach, and the Karoo, and volunteered at a local hospital and a HIV/AIDS service center. After my semester abroad ended I was able to travelled through out South Africa. And for CISLA I went to Gaborone, Botswana this summer to intern with the University of Botswana’s HIV and AIDS Research Center and the university’s biology department. I was able to help out with various projects the Center was conducting. And with University of Botswana’s biology department, I worked in a lab that does plant testing. The lab receives plants from traditional healers in Botswana and tests them to see if they may have the potential to be developed into cures for different STIs, tropical diseases, and HIV/AIDS. Again I was able to travel to Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, and Namibia during their public holidays and after my internship ended. Since I’m talking about Africa, I was able to take a week off from school my sophomore year to go to Sudan (before it became Sudan and South Sudan) to work as a cameraman for Dr. Robert Arnot, where I got to meet Sudan’s foreign minister, and helped made a proposal to bring John Deere equipment to a farm in Sudan. I was able to just take a week off from school without having to do the any make up work (except for an orgo test) because of the supportive faculty members at Conn.

Tell me about your Conservation Research Expedition! What did it entail?
Before I went to South Africa for study abroad I went to Utila, Honduras to help out with the coral reef research conducted by Operation Wallacea. The first week there I was learning to identify different reef fish, turtle, algea, invertebrates (i.e., sponges and anemones), coral, basically every living organisms around Utila. I was given the task of identifying corals, because no one else could remember all the scientific name of the corals. I was diving twice a day, 6 days a week for a whole month to conduct surveys on the reefs in different part of the island. The surveys collected assists in providing one of the largest biodiversity assessment datasets in the Americas that can be used to promote sustainable development and ongoing use of the reefs. We also got to do fun dives (where we just dive without taking survey), and I got rescue diver certified from the trip.

What are your plans for the future?
As of now my plans in the future is to pass biochemistry, physics, and physical chemistry… But after graduation I plan on taking a gap year before going to grad school. I’m planning on working and saving up for some adventure (hopefully I can pull some string and get a job that allows me to travel). And this might sound strange to people, but I’m planning on becoming a Buddhist nun for at least 6 months or a year (I can’t decide yet) somewhere in Asia before I start school again. I was born and raised a Buddhist in Bangkok, so this is not that random… And because I’ve got the travel bug I’m planning to apply to do a master in public health at a school that does Master’s International with the Peace Corps. 

Her Campus Placeholder Avatar
Annie Rusk

Conn Coll

Similar Reads👯‍♀️