Like a Starfish, Local Scholar Heals Herself—And Others

On an ordinary autumn afternoon in 2018, Litchfield High School then-sophomore Allison Davenport had no idea she was about to experience the biggest challenge she had ever faced. Stepping onto the soccer field, Allie knew she would go out and give her best. She always had an inner drive to excel at everything she did. However, on that particular day, as she ran down the field, Allison had trouble breathing. Soon, she could not breathe at all. “It was a strange choking sensation in my throat that I hadn’t experienced. Then it happened the next game and the game after that. I went from being a starter who never needed a sub to not being able to play for more than ten minutes at a time because of the breathing attacks.”

Weeks later, Allie was diagnosed with a rare condition called Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion (PVFM). Allison read everything she could about this disorder. “I discovered a link that anxious high-achievers had an increased likelihood of developing this condition. This epiphany that my mind was powerful enough to contribute to this vocal cord abnormality sparked my journey of self-development.”

Soon after her diagnosis, things got worse for Allison’s family when COVID-19 hit. Her mother began to lose her business clients, and Allie knew she had to help. In the spring of 2020, Allie—by that point a high school senior—applied to every scholarship opportunity she could find. “My counselor told me about the opportunities at Connecticut Community Foundation, and I applied. It all boiled down to being proactive.” The Foundation awarded Allie with a scholarship from the Regional Scholarship Fund, which provides opportunities for residents of the Foundation’s 21-town service area.

With an outstanding academic record and eagerness to learn and grow, Allie is now a student at the University of Connecticut pursuing a dual degree in finance and cognitive science. Her competitive nature was quickly recognized by her peers and professors and she was selected for membership in a female entrepreneur cohort during her freshman year. Having gone through the experience of overcoming PVFM, by training her body and mind to breath and behave differently, and being surrounded by classmates and educators passionate about entrepreneurship gave Allie the confidence to start her own business grounded in her own experience of self-development. “StarMind is the name of my business and alludes to the starfish’s unique ability to regenerate limbs when damaged.” Allie’s start-up celebrates small victories by following resources in a reflective journal capable of transforming mindsets for the better, she calls it, The Guide. Allie explains her approach to business with zeal. “Entrepreneurship is fascinating to me because it allows you to create something from nothing but an idea. There are no limits and little structure since you’re building the future.”

Today Allie is thankful for the growth, knowledge, and confidence she has attained. She is conscious that most of it would not be possible without the generosity of donors who have helped her pave this path. “The scholarship from Connecticut Community Foundation supports me as I pursue this academic endeavor.” Allie says, “more importantly, your decision to invest in the futures of Connecticut students is inspiring. I hope to make you proud.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Allie’s business and The Guide, please check out mystarmind.com or email Allie at info@mystarmind.com.

If you are a high school senior in the Greater Waterbury and Litchfield Hills or a current or returning college student, you can learn more and apply for one of Connecticut Community Foundation’s many scholarships at www.conncf.org/apply-for-scholarships.

Connecticut Community Foundation’s mission is to foster an equitable and inclusive community in Greater Waterbury and Litchfield Hills by inspiring generosity, supporting organizations, and cultivating effective leaders.

While serving this 21-town region, the Foundation works to address the community’s critical issues, funds programs benefiting local residents, supports efforts to improve systems to foster more equitable outcomes for residents, strengthens local organizations through learning and outreach, and work with individuals, families and corporations to steward charitable and scholarship funds.