Kelsey Parker is a 21 year-old Biophysical Sciences major from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, which she claims is neither rocky nor mountainous. She found Regent online her senior year of high school and knew she had found her home when she first toured Regent. She cancelled her visits to other schools (including Liberty), applied and got accepted to Regent right away.
Having been friends with her dentists her whole life, Kelsey originally pursued science with dentistry in mind. “For Regent, Bio Phys is structured so if you want to go into any medical field – dental, medical, pharmaceutical, veterinary – they basically pile all of the prerequisites; so whatever you want to do afterwards, you’re basically set… Bio Phys was what I needed to go the path of dentistry.”
At the beginning of the semester, the Lord rerouted Kelsey and gave her a desire to pursue ministry. “My plans were dentistry until probably about the beginning of this semester and the Lord was pricking my heart and saying, ‘No I want you to follow me into ministry.’ I put it off for a while, I was like, ‘No, no, no – I’m literally about to graduate! This can’t be what you want me to do!’ I remember spending countless hours not getting sleep and thinking no, this is doubt, this is just me being scared to graduate – not scared but sad – just wanting to stay and be comfortable. But it kept coming up and I [finally had] to deal with it. [Then,] opportunity after opportunity kept coming to me for ministry and working with churches. It’s really been eye-opening; once you submit yourself to the Lord now he can work. Now you’ve allowed him to do what he wants to do. The Lord could just put us where he wants us to be, but he wants to partner with us.”
Though not completely sure what her next year will look like, Kelsey plans to follow the Lord’s call into ministry and stay in the Virginia Beach area. For her future the Lord has given her two words to center her life around. “Whether its ministry or teaching at a school, or both even, the Lord has just put on my heart ‘warmth and joy.’ That is what I want my ministry to be filled with; that is what I want the people around me to feel. I want them to feel the warmth of the loving Father and the joy of the loving Father.”
While she did not foresee this change in career goals, the Lord has been preparing Kelsey for ministry during her four years at Regent through her involvement in Campus Ministries (CM). “I’ve been involved with Campus Ministries since my sophomore year; I did apprenticeship, which was an amazing year of growth and community. My junior year I applied to be a LifeGroup leader and now senior year I’m a LifeGroup captain. All three of these years have been really good, just being able to grow and stick with the same [organization]… this has been really impactful for me and others also.”
On her experience in CM Kelsey said, “I definitely learned a lot with Campus Ministries. I never saw myself as a leader… I [always stayed] in the back to not be seen. In the apprenticeship, that was where I was. I did Chapel and UnChapel administration, so I was very behind the scenes and I was in my element. But through that I was able to see how that was a type of leadership, and how I was able to grow in that, and that lead me to follow the next step of being a LifeGroup leader…. Just really having confidence in myself, I feel like I’ve grown to really enjoy community and I think that’s an important aspect Regent has…. and Campus Ministries, from my personal experience, really helped foster that.”
Aside from Campus Ministries, professors have had the biggest impact on Kelsey during her time at Regent. “I feel like people look at Bio Phys and think they’re just a bunch of weirdos doing their science, no one gets them. I feel like the professors are like that too. They’re in their own little bubble in the Classroom Building, but they really are the backbone of how we all get through the major. I know Dr. Lutz, she’s like basically our mom in the major; she always has that nurturing, wants to see us succeed when we’re failing [attitude.] She’s always been very much so the supporter and encourager, the spiritual mom. And other professors I’ve had at my time at Regent, Dr. Jervey and Dr. Stewart… who’s not here anymore, but he always made it fun and applicable. I remember in biology we pricked our fingers and got our own blood samples. I remember I didn’t have the guts to do it myself, so Dr. Stewart had to do mine and I was like, “Ah!” But it was fun to find our blood type and different stuff about your own body.”
For her senior thesis project, Kelsey is using toothpicks to test body touch receptors to determine the correlation between physical and emotional sensitivity. Kelsey explained her process, “I’ve gotten so much judgment in the Student Center. I’m like, ‘I’ll just take these toothpicks out in the Student Center no big deal.’ Literally everyone has asked me ‘What are you doing?’ So every time I say, ‘I’m building my house’ or ‘I’m building a boat.’”
She continued, “Actually my thesis project is really different than everyone else’s. Everyone else is in the lab doing things with chemicals; doing things we’ve learned through the four years we’ve been here…. I’m observing people, coming outside the box…. I’ve gotten to observe a lot of my friends as well as people that I don’t know too well. It’s been a great chance to just be like, ‘Can I poke you with some toothpicks?’ [laughs] But, it’s coming along well. Finishing up is kind of nostalgic, like this is it, this is how I graduate, this is what is between me and my diploma.”
When asked what advice she would give to incoming students, Kelsey responded, “Just forget yourself, forget who you were in high school. I think a lot of times freshmen come in and have these expectations of this is what my college experience is going to look like. Sometimes it’s based on high school experiences; sometimes they want to completely detach from that. Whatever the case, wherever they come from, I want them to come in with a sense of trying to know who they are and trying to figure that out. But with that, it’s a very impressionable time. So get counsel, don’t be afraid to speak up and say, ‘I don’t know.’ That’s the big thing I had to learn, pretending to know everything but everything failing in a trail behind me. [Then] having to speak up and say, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’ So, having those older people- it could be intimidating to ask them, ‘Hey could we grab coffee or lunch sometime?’ – but do that. Have people to invest in you, to grow you, to nurture and mature you. So, when you do graduate you have a greater sense of who you are and what you want to do and your identity in Christ and how he wants to use you to impact the world. Regent’s motto is ‘Christian Leadership to Change the World,’ and I think a good way to start that is coming in with an open mind and each morning saying, ‘What can I learn today?’”
Thank you so much Kelsey for taking time to share your experience and wisdom with us and congratulations on graduating!
Renée Hogan is a department head for the Daily Runner.