Roland Perreault, a practicing physical therapist and outpatient rehab manager at Yale New Haven Hospital, is the new president of the CAHNR alumni board, UCAHNRA. He also serves as the director of the Lions Low Vision Center of Connecticut. Perreault grew up as an athlete and was always fascinated by science. He began his studies at UConn as a chemistry major, but transferred into the physical therapy program. He believes that the evolution of physical therapy to a doctorate program has been positive for the field and finds it exciting to see young professionals creating new pathways for the profession. Here’s what he had to say about his time at UConn.
What was your major? When did you graduate? With what degree?
I earned my BS from the School of Allied Health in physical therapy in 1982. Later, I earned my MA in exercise physiology from the School of Education in 1989, as well as my DPT in 2016 at Utica College.
What Allied Health Sciences class was most useful to you?
Community health, taught by Ronnie Leavitt. At the time I thought it was just a requirement, but over the years I realized how much experience Ronnie brought into that course, in terms of global health, population health and health disparities. She was teaching those things back in the 1980s, but I now realize the things that she was teaching us were years ahead of their time.
Tell us some of your fond memories of UConn.
I have so many fond memories of UConn. Some of the best memories though were during difficult times. I recall one particular event in my junior year, just before spring break, in which I wanted to quit UConn and just go home. I spoke to my advisor, who escalated my concerns all the way to Dean Polly Fitz. She reasoned with me that whatever was going on must be very important and she only asked me to wait until after spring break to make that decision. I went home fully intent on quitting, and of course, with a little time and much thought, I went back to her office determined to continue and complete my education. I will never forget her and the entire faculty and administration of the School of Allied Health.
Please describe your current job.
I am a physical therapist at Yale New Haven Hospital in a unique area of practice. At the McGivney Advanced Surgery Center, we have the opportunity to educate patients who’ve had orthopedic surgery and assist in their safe discharge. Previously, I managed multiple outpatient therapy sites for Yale New Haven.
Are you doing what you imagined you would be doing at this point in your life?
My career has taken many exciting turns, and I’ve had plenty of opportunities to find fulfillment in my professional and personal life. Finding life balance may seem elusive though it is much clearer to me today than it has ever been, that gratitude is a choice we make every day.
Do you have any advice for current students that will help them in the future?
The relationships you make while at UConn can serve you for a lifetime. My classmates, my advisors, other faculty and an alumni network will always be there sharing the same passion and interests.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I am so proud of the fact that both of my children are UConn graduates. Matthew earned a dual degree in history and political science in 2011, and Rebecca joined the profession of nursing graduating in 2018. Huskies for Life!