February 17, 2014
Sara Navarro reserves Monday nights for the Millsaps College Dance for Parkinson’s program, where she encourages, assists and follows along with participants.
“The program encourages all of those involved to engage themselves completely during the session,” said Navarro, a senior who is majoring in neuroscience and cognitive studies with a minor in business administration. “No one is singled out in the class because everyone follows the instructor’s moves and participates to the best of their abilities.”
Navarro, who has been accepted into the Hardin Simmons Physical Therapy School in Abilene, Texas, and plans to possibly pursue a Ph.D . after she earns her doctorate of physical therapy, said the Dance for Parkinson’s program has provided her with a greater understanding of Parkinson’s disease that will be useful in her career.
“It is no longer a neurological disease that was covered on a test – Parkinson’s disease is something that people in our community and across the world deal with daily,” she said. “I have learned that many people with Parkinson’s disease have physical limits that do not correlate with their cognitive function. Dancing allows the participants to move through imagery and rhythm along with the music, in order to reach a wider range of motion and stability that would be challenging to exhibit otherwise.”
A native of Tyler, Texas, Navarro said she knew Millsaps was where she wanted to attend college after she visited campus.
“I loved the environment and life of the Millsaps community,” she said. “The last four years have been full of countless reminders that I made the right decision.”
She recalls a study abroad experience in Costa Rica as transforming.
“My classmates and I visited orphans and the elderly in San Jose through our service learning course with Dr. Robert Kahn, our Spanish professor,” she said. “During this experience, the incentive for learning Spanish transformed from one of academic focus to personal desire. I wanted to connect with these people, show them care and compassion, but I could not so do until I conquered the language barrier, tearing down the wall that stood between us.”
A member of the Millsaps track and field team for four years, Navarro throws the hammer and discus, which some find surprising considering she’s just 5-foot 4-inches tall. She serves as president of the MAJORity, which is a Millsaps Fan Club, and as secretary of the Millsaps Code of Conduct Board. She is a member of Chi Omega and the Catholic Student Association.
“Millsaps has so many organizations and programs to dive into,” she said. “I dedicated myself to some of my favorite ones.”