The week of November 6-10, 2023 is National First Generation College Students Week. A first-generation college student is a classification given to a student who has at least one parent who has not completed a four-year college or university. Parker Stallings (he/him) is a First Generation MHC Scholar of 27 from Morgantown, KY. He is majoring in professional legal studies with the goal of going to law school and eventually going into politics or government. Last week he was able to attend the Student Conference on American Affairs (SCUSA), and after the SCUSA conference, Parker expressed interest in space law which is gaining ground and lacking many specialists. He is very involved on campus in Out in Honors, Mock Trial, Philosophy Club and Pre-Law Association. He loves the Out in Honors community and the helpful resources provided by the Pre-Law Association, such as resources for going to law school and a study group for the LSAT.
Parker chose to come to college to pursue a better education and acquire the degree needed to become a lawyer. He wanted a better education and his parents and grandparents encouraged him to be the first to go to college. He chose WKU and MHC because of the community. While attending a Head for the Hill event, Parker was able to speak to political science department professors and WKU students and learn about the campus community, which he loved. Additionally, he visited the CMH table and learned more about the community CMH builds through activities like H4 and the resources offered to help students become better scholars. Parker says: “And it’s been amazing. I loved being in the Honors College.
As a first-generation college student, Parker said the application and decision process went pretty well and he didn’t need to bring in any additional resources. He does, however, talk about the additional resources provided to students by MHC. Although available to all students, Parker notes that resources such as the Office of Scholar Development (OSD) and WKU Global Learning are easier to access because of their location within HCIC. He says, “I feel like being in the Honors College gives me that little extra boost. »
Through the college application process and college in general, Parker has learned that he is capable of being more independent than he imagined. He also realized the love he has for his major, by being in college, on campus, and attending honors events. Parker comments that he has never been a very social person, but has met a lot of people through MHC. Within this community, Parker got help with various aspects of college, such as advice on dorm essentials from friends at H4 and advice on classes from others at his specialty that he encountered during a mock trial. Also through Mock Trial, Parker formed a relationship with a professor in her major, Professor Kelsey Truxal, who also speaks to the classes.
Last week, Parker had the opportunity to attend SCUSA at West Point Academy. This opportunity came in the form of an email from Will Randolph at OSD informing academics of slots planned for this conference. The OSD application was short and consisted of a small essay and some personal information. After being alerted that MHC had received additional spots at the conference, Parker was able to attend and met with Will Randolph to review the SCUSA application and other conference information. OSD also paid for Parker to attend the conference.
At SCUSA, a total of five delegates were in attendance for the MHC, and the conference consisted of 15 panel discussions, each with different topics under the overall theme of innovation and the future of U.S. foreign policy. Parker’s panel focused on the politics and economics of space, which he discussed throughout the conference. Other MHC delegates participated in roundtable discussions, including those from Sub-Saharan Africa and China and the Pacific. While at SCUSA, delegates stayed in the West Point barracks and dormitories. Parker’s roundtable consisted of 12 delegates from around the world, including an international student from Singapore attending Harvard, as well as students from the Japanese Military Academy and the Italian Military Academy. It also had two co-chairs who were able to provide delegates with first-hand education and knowledge on the topic: one works as a consultant for the Space Force and the other does space-related work in Washington, DC. Parker comments: “It was literally working with people from all over the world.
Throughout the conference, groups discussed their larger problem and then chose specific problems to work on further. Parker’s group chose space debris in low Earth orbit and space traffic management in low Earth orbit as a specific problem. Together, the group wrote a two-page memo, which was submitted to West Point and will be published, and developed a presentation that they presented to the other roundtables and people at West Point.
This conference was both a great career experience for Parker and also a networking opportunity. When asked what his dream job is, Parker always answers, “Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.” I will settle for the position of President of the United States. With that, Parker talks about learning about space and what it’s like to work on a political committee. He was able to learn from others and professionals, as well as hear their keynote speaker, John Kerry, a former senator and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, and the nation’s first special presidential envoy for climate. Parker said hearing John Kerry tell delegates, “As a world, we can make our world better” and “You are the next generation.” You’re the one who’s going to make a difference,” was truly inspiring and encouraged him to pursue law. In terms of networking, Parker connected with people from other parts of the world, at West Point, and with other MHC scholars.
When asked to give advice to those deciding to go to college, Parker says it’s a great opportunity and experience, especially if a scholar’s career will benefit from higher education. When he arrived at university, it was suggested that he take a reduced course load the first semester and he admits that it was very helpful. Additionally, Parker talks about MHC saying, “The Honors College is really a great resource. It’s great for making friends, great for community, and great for just being close and having more opportunities to talk, like OSD and Global. For students interested in SCUSA, Parker suggests keeping up to date with world events, being passionate and having things you want to accomplish.
In giving general advice to students, he says to be part of clubs and the community. Parker also talks about some methods for handling school if you don’t have much experience studying or working independently. He suggests not overloading classes at first and studying outside of the dorm, away from distractions. Parker talks about one of his favorite places to study, saying, “Going to the commons and getting coffee is like the perfect way to study. »
We are proud of Parker’s hard work and representation of MHC at SCUSA and are excited to see how he continues to progress toward excellence with the Mahurin Honors College.