‘Go and Do It’: As we celebrate Disability Pride Month, a recent CHS alum describes her independent life

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

Dyeshia Parrott was just 12 when the accident happened.

She was riding in the car with her family when the vehicle hit a patch of black ice and crashed. While others suffered only minor injuries, Dyeshia was left with a severed spinal cord that resulted in her being paralyzed from the waist down.

That was 12 years ago.

Since then, the 24-year-old from Radcliff, Ky., has graduated high school, earned a $30,000 scholarship to UK, graduated college and gotten a job. She has learned to live on her own, to be independent when others may have given up.

“You know, living by myself in Lexington, and going to my job and hanging out with friends and doing everything — that is that I want to do,” she says. “And that's ultimately what I wanted for myself, because it's easy for someone to go through a traumatic experience and want to be bitter, and I understand that, but for me that was just not an option. Like, I just couldn't sit and cry about it all the time, because I felt like that was just going to get me nowhere. So, the attitude and the persona that I carry now is genuinely how I feel in life.”

Dyeshia now works as a Medical Laboratory Technologist at UK’s Chandler Medical Center. The 2020 graduate says she’s thinking of going back for more school — possibly a PA degree.

And as we in the College of Health Sciences celebrate Disability Pride Month, Dyeshia describes what her life is like, and how CHS helped her along the way.

Here’s 5 questions with … Dyeshia Parrott.

What led you to UK?

I didn't really want to go to Louisville for some reason — I felt it was just a little too close and I kind of wanted to get away, a little bit, but not too far. So, I applied to UK, and they gave me a scholarship. I was like, ‘Might as well come here — free money, and I can’t turn that down.’

What led you to Medical Laboratory Science?

So, at the time, I wanted to go to med school, and on the flyer of the many different routes you can take, there was one that said ‘Pre-medical laboratory science.’ I was like, ‘Okay pre-medical laboratory science — maybe I’ll go down this route.’ A lot of people did something like biology, but I wanted something that's more personalized, and something that would already give me that type of background. But eventually, I realized I did not want to go to med school. It was so long and tedious I figured it was not for me, but I continued to do Medical Laboratory Science.

Now I'm debating if I want to go back to school and take the PA route. But there's a lot of different things that I want to do, so I just want to do my research and decide what could be best for me.

You seem like an amazingly independent person. How did the College help you when you were going through your undergraduate work?

Oh, I am very open about it — I know some people have that trauma when it comes to accidents. It’s really hard for them to talk about it but that’s not me. Parrott I’ve always been a very independent person, so during this whole thing I didn't want any help, really, unless I needed it — I wanted to do everything on my own.

When I was younger, there were a lot of challenges I had to face: How to get dressed, how to get to school, things like that. So, it was a big learning experience.

And in college, once I found out where my classes were, and I knew that I had to live in the south part of campus, things were a lot easier. I joined a sorority. I met a lot of friends. And when I got tired of wheeling around campus, I was able to use the bus system or other things, like where I could call or text, and drivers would come pick me up.

The College helped me out of my shell. I learned how to do my own thing, and navigate situations on my own. I was glad I was on my own, but it was a challenge. I had to learn how to get to classes, where to eat, where I could meet my friends.

I know everyone’s story is different, and everyone has things to deal with, but looking back, I feel this is honestly the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m living independently in a good area, in a good situation with a good job, and there’s no way I’d be in this situation without the decisions I’ve made.  

What advice do you have for others who are coming into a similar situation?

You’ve got to put yourself in a situation where if you want something, you really have got to go and do it. And if you fail, it’s okay — it’s not the end of the world.

You have to learn what’s best for you, and you have to stick with it. After my first year of college, I was struggling. I wondered if I’d made the right decision. But then I learned how to navigate campus and I made friends.

Just give it some time.

What is your elevator pitch for those who may want to come to CHS?

CHS has been one of the most helpful colleges that I've ever been to — the advisors, they are awesome, the people are very nice, and they will help you in any type of way, shape or form, no matter what.

The College itself has amazing majors with amazing people and amazing teachers, and I think that when it comes to increasing diversity, CHS has got it down, I feel like I haven't heard a lot of complaints with the College.

Whether it be the advisors, or the College itself, I find them all to be very, very nice and very helpful — so I one-thousand percent recommend everyone to go to CHS.