Alyssa McDonald, Haven

Alyssa McDonald

Vernon, CT

UX/UI Design

Advisor: Joel Salisbury

Storytelling has always been at the center of all my work.  In the aftermath of having a rare breast tumor at the age of twenty-five, I began to connect with other people who had the same type of tumor as me and learned their stories and emotions paralleled mine in many ways.  I began to think about how I could rewrite our shared narrative and ensure facing a breast condition or cancer was a journey not traveled alone, which led me to create Haven, a peer to peer support mobile application.  Through interviews, surveys and peer reviewed research, I uncovered the problems this community faces when seeking emotional support and created a mobile application that counters the overwhelming loneliness that comes with a diagnosis and connects them to the support system they truly need– each other.


Alyssa McDonald is a UX/UI designer specializing in human-centered design processes.  She is a Digital Media and Design MFA candidate at the University of Connecticut and has a Photography BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  She uses storytelling to understand the heart of the people and places her work encompasses.  Her facilitation of user research within the breast cancer community revealed stories that guided the design of her master’s thesis project, Haven, a peer to peer support mobile application for people with breast conditions and cancer. She worked in the art industry for several years as a studio director before working as a visual designer for Greenhouse Studios and a UX designer for the Digital Experience Lab at UConn.