Wyatt Parker is a very happy person. The inaugural recipient of the Robert and Roberta Hurd Scholarship Fund, Wyatt recently packed up his Subaru with his girlfriend and headed to Seattle with their three hamsters, Tulip, Hotchie and Motchie, to start his career. We wanted to catch up with Wyatt after his interview in 2015 when he received the $40,000 Hurd scholarship at his high school graduation. Wyatt’s enthusiasm for life, despite many hardships, created an everlasting mark on many Community Foundation staff members.
To say that things weren’t going well for Wyatt before he received his well-deserved scholarship would be an understatement. While he faced many challenges, Wyatt always remained optimistic. At age 15, a family friend invited him in and provided the stable household that Wyatt needed to push forward with his education. He lived with them all the way through college. “They’re awesome people,” Wyatt remarked. “I thank them almost every time I’m on the phone and they say, ‘You have to stop thanking us. We just gave you Hot Pockets, man!’ But they gave me Christmas gifts too, like I was part of the family.”
When Wyatt learned about receiving the scholarship, he knew that his dream of attending college was a reality. He says of that moment, “I went from being a victim of circumstance to having the luck and opportunity that graces other people.” The scholarship was $10,000 per year, which paid for about half of his undergraduate degree.
Wyatt Parker was an obvious fit for the Hurd scholarship, established by Robert and Roberta Hurd, who both graduated from Phoenix Central Schools. They established the scholarship fund to honor some of those Phoenix school students who face financial barriers to college.
Wyatt is very clear about how crucial the Hurd scholarship was to his education. “I don’t think I would be able to be here if it were not for the scholarship. It set me up for success.” Wyatt chose to study Environmental Science at Binghamton University for his undergraduate degree because he wanted to give back to the community through environmental work. He wrote papers that were published in journals, such as Ecosphere, and found the coding and analytics involved most enjoyable. This led him to pursue his MBA in management information systems.
But graduating during a pandemic is a challenging time to start a career. So Wyatt decided to “pay it forward” by applying for an AmeriCorps position. He was accepted to City Year, a branch of AmeriCorps that focuses on pairing young mentors with school children to form developmental relationships and improving schoolwide conditions. Parker commented, “City Year has an equity focus and the goal of trying to bring educational justice to those furthest from it. I didn’t have any experience in education or working with children, but I liked the idea of emboldening a community.”
After 8 months of teaching fractions and directing the technical components of a virtual fifth-grade classroom in Seattle, he started looking for a longer-lasting job.
“I applied for exactly 54 jobs starting in mid-February 2021, and I got rejected from all of them, including my current position,” Wyatt exclaimed. However, one company eventually put his resumé back at the top of the pile and he was soon hired.
Now, Parker works remotely for a tech company in a home office with a window that faces the mountains. He also loves spending time with Casey, his partner, playing his many musical instruments and cross-stitching.
“I cannot emphasize how lucky I am to be here,” Wyatt said, thoughtfully. He loves his life and is thankful to everyone and every organization who helped him realize his dreams. He especially thanks the Hurds, the Ross family, the Community Foundation, the Phoenix Central School District and the many teachers and administrators who stuck by him during challenging times. “I think all of their wisdom has found me success. And I’m thankful for that.”
Wyatt plans to continue paying his success forward through more community service, donating to the Hurd Scholarship or maybe one day creating a scholarship fund of his own.
For more information on creating a scholarship fund, click here.