Grad Profile: Parker Marson

Parker Marson is a 2021 graduate from Pleasant Hill, California. He is majoring in Exercise Science with two minors in Human Biology and Chemistry. 


Why did you choose WOU? 

I chose Western because of the success of the track and field team, and I was sold by how beautiful the campus was. The small town was something of a culture shock coming from the Bay Area, but it was fantastic to learn about and become involved in a small community. 


What has been your favorite annual event at WOU? 

The Academic Excellence Showcase has always been one of my favorite events on campus. As a young student, I saw these events and thought it was incredible how many individuals participated. As an upper division student, it was fantastic to present alongside my peers and wander about campus, seeing people I knew from different majors present projects they were proud of. 


What have some of your extracurriculars been? How did those impact your time on campus?

I was a student-athlete on the track and field team at WOU; this had a large impact on my time in Monmouth. Primarily, the support system created by the Athletics department [was always] able to help athletes get through the rigors of competing while being a student. 


Student on a hike in a dry field with his dog.
Parker Marson

What has been the highlight of your time at WOU? 

Winning a conference title with the cross country team after over a year over being injured was an experience I will never forget. 


Who stands out from your time at WOU and why?

Three professors have really stood out to me in my time at Western: Dr. Robert Hautala, Dr. Emily Vala-Haynes, and Dr. Amy Harwell. Dr. Hautala was an active supporter of WOU athletics and always found a way to challenge us in the classroom on things our coaches were teaching us about learning skills. He had a reputation for being a difficult professor, but caring–and at the end of the day, it was apparent that what he really wanted was [for] us to understand that not everything we had learned as youth athletes and throughout our careers was unquestionably correct. He taught me how to learn new things about skills I thought I had mastered: a schema I continue to utilize. 

Dr. Emily Vala-Haynes is a professor in the Community Health department who is also an assistant coach on the track and field team. She has given me someone to look up to as a professional. Her ability to work in many disciplines with an incredibly high level of knowledge is something I hope to accomplish one day. She has been an influence to my work ethic and her presence on campus during the pandemic as an epidemiologist has been integral to our safety. 

Dr. Amy Harwel is one of my advisors, a former professor of mine, but most importantly, my mentor. She has instilled confidence in me when I felt I was not capable of moving to the next level of education. Not only is she supportive in times that are difficult, but she has driven me to achieve more and support my peers like she has supported me. 


What is your favorite building on campus? 

The Devolder Family Science Center is my favorite building on campus for a few reasons, the first being that this is where I spent the majority of the past few years studying for my science classes. Beyond this, Devolder houses the cadaver dissection lab, which I have had the privilege to be both a student and instructor in. The students who populate Devolder are some of the hardest working individuals I have met and are there at all hours of the day and night doing as much as they can to move to the next level of education to be healthcare providers of the highest standard. Working alongside these individuals in my classes and while studying has been a privilege that I will miss. 


What will you miss the most about WOU? 

The small community of WOU is something that I’m going to miss a lot. I love to go on walks around town and see people I know. The student-athlete community in Monmouth is something I have loved to be a part of, and I will miss the friends I have gained while being a part of that community. 


What do you love most about the major/minors you completed?

My major in Exercise Science and minors in Human Biology and Chemistry have given me a look at the human body both anatomically and physiologically that I feel is missed by people. The combination of these disciplines has helped me take a deep dive into the human body and how, as a future health care professional, I may be able to provide care to individuals in need. 


What has been your biggest achievement, success or accomplishment in college?

While it took me a while to be successful in the classroom, being able to complete the range of classes that I did while being a student-athlete is something I am very proud of. I am also very proud of my work in the cadaver dissection lab. I had the privilege to work with eight cadavers, and during this time, I learned how hard I was willing to work to help others learn from these resources.  


What are your plans for after graduation? 

I am in the process of applying to medical school and hope to treat patients as an emergency medicine physician in the future.

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