I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be standing in the tunnel in the Thomas and Mack Center ready to walk out to an arena packed with people everywhere. It was quite a scene! Music was playing and everyone was so happy for what was about to come. I was so nervous standing in the tunnel waiting to go out there. My stomach was in knots and my heart was both joyful and relieved. As the entrance music began to blare I was told to get in position and get ready to walk out to the floor. As I walked slowly towards the floor of the arena I began to break down and cry. Was this finally it? Was all of my hard work and persistence about to pay off? I was about to fulfill a journey that started when I was 18 years old. A journey that no one outside of my family really thought I was going to do. But I did it and when I walked across that stage and heard “Darian Parker…Doctor of Philosophy,” I knew I had gone as far as I could and that made my soul so very happy. December 2007 was a wonderful time in my life. I was 29 years old and my terminal degree was in my hands.
I enjoy thinking back about my undergraduate and graduate educational journey. My parents were heavy influences in me going that far. They always pushed me to make something of my life and give my very best effort in whatever I chose to do. Graduations were a time of immense joy for the Parker family. I remember during my high school graduation from Robert E. Lee High School in Northern Virginia that the journey had only just begun. College was on the horizon and my parents always made it clear that not attending college wasn’t an option.
When I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree from James Madison University my father cried and told me how proud of me he was. My mother was stoic and proud and told me I needed to go for my Master’s Degree. She also mentioned as the Doctorate students were receiving their degrees, “Don’t you want to get your Doctorate one day too and hear them say congratulations Dr. Parker?” At the time I thought my mother was crazy!! I said I’m not smart enough to do something like that. Just as my mother always did she said, “you can do it son…you can do anything you want to do.” My mother and father both challenged me in different ways to see how far I could go.
And as you read in the opening to this blog entry, I went on to earn my Doctorate from UNLV and I did it not only because my parents encouraged me to do it, but also because I wanted to see what I was made of. Could I do it? How far could I go?
How far can you go? That is a question that each person must answer for themselves at some point. My path in terms of how far can I go was exactly that…my path. What’s your path? How are you working towards owning that path and becoming the best that you can be in that direction? Are you blazing a trail or are you just taking a walk in the park? Are you telling yourself it is too late? Are you thinking what is done is done and you can’t do anything about it?
The thing about seeing how far you can go is that you can’t just talk about it; you have to be about it. You have to make very smart decisions and always put forth your best performance in whatever you do. And you have to be prepared for the storms associated with going as far as you can go. You see, life is not a lukewarm journey where everything is also always on your terms. When seeing how far you can go you will be knocked down several times. Your heart, your mind and your spirit will be taken to the edge of despair. Even with all of this will you see it through to the end? My friends…seeing how far you can go is a road certainly less traveled yet it is a road that each of us can travel knowing that there is something great out there for each of us. The question is will you seek it and will you seek it with all of your being?
Until next time...