XASS: Where are you from and what year are you at Stanford?
Parker: I’m from Thomasville, Georgia, and I am a frosh this year.
XASS: From Georgia, Stanford’s not the most obvious choice. Why the Farm?
Parker: Why the Farm? I think I had a little bit of a roundabout journey here. It kind of starts when my brother was looking at colleges. We just happened to be out in California, and my mom was talking to my brother. She said, “Hey, why don’t we look at a school while we’re out here? Might as well.” We were in Santa Barbara. We went to see UC Santa Barbara, and he goes, “You know, this isn’t really what I want.” But then I kind of was looking and I said, “This is kind of a cool vibe. I like it here!” Also my dad spent a lot of time in California, so I was just interested.
Then I said, “Let’s go check out Stanford,” whenever I was looking. And it didn’t hurt that I was coming from a nor’easter in Boston. I came out here and it was gorgeous. When I looked around people were happy. I really was looking for the community more than anything, because I knew the school was going to be a great school regardless. I was looking if I could see happy people, and I found that.
I got in here early and debated whether or not to apply elsewhere. After lots of prayer, I felt it was the place for me. I accepted it, but actually had some questions in the back of my head. Then I was at Passion last year, and my youth group leader from home turned to me and said, “I feel like God is telling me that that is the right thing for you. I know he has something in store for you out there.” Then I said, “I can’t argue with that.” I felt God really was saying that this was the place I needed to be in.
XASS: To clarify, Stanford is the only college you sent an application form to.
Parker: Yes. I got in early, and that was that. There were a few scholarships I was applying to at the other schools in the same timeframe, but I rescinded all those once I got in. So it’s the only school I heard from.
XASS: Okay. Now clearly you were raised in some sort of Christian environment. You were at Passion. You talked about God. So tell me about that.
Parker: I was raised in an Episcopal Church. However, growing up in that environment originally felt stiff and repetitive to me. I never had a worship band; we always used hymnals. In fact, I’m an acolyte. I wore the robes and such. But it’s so funny, because now that I am involved in a contemporary style of worship, I really appreciate going back home and having that kind of service as well. It’s a very reflective service to me. I really appreciate that. I like to say that it feels like I’m putting my best foot forward for God.
Growing up, my parents were very much, “This is your walk. We can encourage you, and we’ll talk to you if you ask questions.” They wanted it to be my walk, but it was not preaching to me.
XASS: All right, so any thoughts about what you might be majoring in?
Parker: Thoughts about what I’m majoring in … I came in thinking English and Theater, and I’m still considering the two. But I took a class last quarter, called Understanding Energy, that looked at how we’re producing energy right now, and then looking towards the future with renewables and the economic and environmental trends that we’re on. That really got me fascinated with energy and renewables. So, now I’m thinking maybe Theater and Earth Systems.
XASS: What nonacademic passions do you have?
Parker: I think I had a lot more in high school. Obviously you have to start consolidating here. I haven’t been able to do it here, but I love horseback riding. I was actually a competitive horseback rider growing up, a hunter/jumper. I’m involved in inter-religious dialogue on campus. I’m involved in FRE, the Fellowship for Religious Encounter, which I’ve really enjoyed. Acting has been kind of the primary one since I’ve been here, and I am hoping to continue it in the Spring. I also love going on hiking trips and all that, so I’m trying to look into more of the outdoor program as well.
XASS: Why Chi Alpha?
Parker: Why Chi Alpha? I think whenever I came to Stanford, there were so many options. There’s obviously so many groups. And actually, I met Faith at a discussion held by the Office for Religious Life. When I heard she was a Christian, I just approached her and said, “Hey, what groups are you involved in?” And she told me about Chi Alpha and Christian Union. I saw the Chi Alpha tent right outside. I felt it was the perfect moment. Deborah was actually there, and she told me about the group and said, “Why don’t you come to the first service?” And I had intentions of looking around elsewhere, but then your sermon that day kind of really stuck with me. Then I met Daniel and other people, and it’s just kind of been the right place. I haven’t really looked past it.
XASS: Do you have any sort of favorite Bible verse or passage?
Parker: I think I’ve kind of switched throughout my time. Obviously different passages talk to you at different times. But one of my first favorite Bible verses, which I think has actually come back to me recently, is Hebrews 13, mainly 5 and 6. And I’m not going to get the wording perfectly, but there’s a few things that resonate with me. First, it talks about not relying on money. So I feel like that’s God saying, “Don’t trust the things of this world, but trust me. I will provide.” Second, I think it talks about trusting that God has promised good things for you, and believing that that promise is fulfilled and true. It’s amazing to me that the creator of the universe has made such a promise. God doesn’t lie obviously. And then third, it talks about remembering who your leaders are and watching their faith. It reminds me to keep up the relationships that I have in the world, along with being able to trust that what’s been told to me is true and validated.
XASS: Okay. The classic Chi Alpha Spotlight Series question: Parker, are you in a relationship?
Parker: I am not.
Parker: No. No, I am not.
XASS: You smiled big when you said that.
Parker: I don’t know. I think I’m kind of waiting for what God has in store. I think oftentimes you can see yourself with people, but sometimes God doesn’t necessarily see the two of you in that situation.
XASS: Parker, thank you for your time.