Goodnight Spotlight: Parker Savage

He wants to make healthcare accessible for all. He belts out show tunes like a Broadway megastar. He lives in the Goodnight Scholars lounge. He’s Parker Savage ’20.

Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Parker Savage ’20: My name is Parker Savage and I am a sophomore at NC State studying biochemistry.  I come from a family of six, was raised in the Triangle, and attended Heritage High School in Wake Forest. Both of my parents are educators here in North Carolina, so I grew up reading books and attending all sorts of sporting events at the local middle and high schools. All of that time spent in and around school buildings and sports fields gave me a passion for learning and athletics. Overtime my desire to practice and play sports faded, but my interest in learning, specifically science and math, only grew. When I got to high school, I was exposed to the world of international development through a mentor of mine and English teacher at my school, Mr. Miles Macleod. He showed me that the world I was living in was so much greater than Wake Forest, and that I was interconnected to people I didn’t even know. This idea of globalization was something that stuck with me and eventually led me to pursue a career in global health. I also became really interested in musical theatre through another mentor of mine, Mr. Bryan Phoebus, who helped me to become confident in myself and comfortable in my own skin. He developed in me a love for singing and performance and now, when school is just too much, I can be found driving around in my car belting out some show tunes! Outside of school and musicals, I enjoy photography and I also attend the Summit Church here in Raleigh where I have been consistently encouraged to pursue my Christian faith and a relationship with Jesus since arriving on campus last fall.

If you had to summarize your personality in one sentence, what would it say?

I have been generously blessed and try to extend that generosity to others.

How would you describe your life as an NC State student?

My life at NC State thus far has been about as hectic as it could possibly be. I am determined to get the most out of my four undergraduate years here, and that has led me to join all kinds of clubs while attempting to maintain what might resemble a social life. Freshman year I spread myself a little bit too thin, so this year my focus has been to invest meaningful time and effort into those things I feel are most important. This activity consolidation has resulted in spending more of my time with the Goodnight Scholars Program, Engineers Without Borders, Camp Kesem, and Summit College. Most of my days are spent with some combination of these groups and class and I can often be found in the Goodnight Scholars’ lounge socializing or planning some kind of meeting. This past year I moved off-campus for the first time, and acclimating to life on my own has been interesting to say the least! I have slowly been teaching myself to microwave frozen foods and have recently discovered the merits of the all-mighty slow cooker.

Tell us about an accomplishment at NC State that fills you with pride.

During my time at NC State I have become very involved with our chapter of Engineers Without Borders. Last year over winter break, I traveled to Sierra Leone to begin implementation of a sustainable water system. This system had been designed by NC State students over the past seven years and my team was finally able to get boots on the ground and make some progress towards its completion. It filled me with pride to see the NC State community come together and make a difference in such a tangible way. After a lot of time, effort, and money from hundreds of people we were able to deliver a product that changed people’s lives. While implementing the water system was a great experience, it was the unity and passion of fellow NC State students that made me proud to be a part of the Wolfpack.

I do not think I will ever take for granted that feeling of [the Goodnight Scholars] community and the way that it completely altered the way I would experience college in the coming months.

What is one experience you need to have at NC State before you graduate?

Before I graduate from NC State I would like to be able to consistently touch my toes. Every year since the fifth grade I have had to list flexibility as one of my weaknesses in all physical evaluations, and by the time I graduate I would like to have eliminated that character flaw. In all seriousness, I would like to establish better habits when it comes to my physical health before I graduate as my personal well being is often the first thing to be sacrificed in the name of getting work done. Finding a balance between health and work is something that I have been striving to get better at, and my goal is to have an established routine by the time I graduate.

Tell us about your time in the Goodnight Scholars Program.

My time in the Goodnight Scholars Program has been nothing short of enriching. From the second I arrived on campus I have been consistently surprised by the support and opportunities that have been made available to me through the Program. I came to college with a million different ideas about how I might go about reaching my goals, and the Goodnight Scholars Program has served an important role in helping me determine which path I should take. Every time I have some crazy pursuit, such as traveling across the world to a country I have never been to dig a well over winter break, the Program as a whole has encouraged me in so many ways. I have been able to learn from, and be advised by, our amazing professional staff who have never failed to make themselves accessible to me. Likewise, older students in the Program never cease to turn around and invest in younger students like myself and that has made a colossal difference in my undergraduate career thus far. Funding from the enrichment grant program has opened doors for me such as Engineers Without Borders that otherwise would not have been opportunities I could pursue. As a whole, the Goodnight Program has truly helped me to reach my goals and has set new ones for me as I strive to fulfill our mantra of “pay it forward.” On a big campus like NC State, it is easy to get lost in the fast-paced atmosphere and feel left behind. The Goodnight Scholars Program has never failed to remind me why I am here, and people within the Program are always there to lift me up and help me right my ship when it gets rocked.

Any unforgettable moments from your time in the Goodnight Scholars community thus far?

The most unforgettable moment for me as a Goodnight Scholar has to be the first day of my first-year summer retreat. I remember moving all of my things into my dorm room and then trudging across campus to meet the other 49 scholars I would be spending the next four years with, all the while feeling very nervous. I wasn’t sure how I was going to acclimate to life on my own and the reality of being out of my comfort zone was weighing heavily. That whole feeling of foreboding went away however as we all sat down to eat and get to know each other. Over the course of a couple hours we did all sorts of activities that you might find at any ice breaking event. This was different than any orientation I had ever been to however, instead of feeling like my interactions were superficial and propped up, I found genuine compassion in the faces of my fellow scholars. That whole first week, whenever I felt that maybe I wasn’t quite ready to take on college by myself, I was reminded that I wasn’t by myself at all. That has stuck with me since the first week and probably will for the rest of my life. I do not think I will ever take for granted that feeling of community and the way that it completely altered the way I would experience college in the coming months.

What does being a Goodnight Scholar mean to you?

To me being a Goodnight Scholar means I am a part of one of the most diverse and dynamic communities I have ever been a witness to. Within the Program I have found inspiration, mentors, roommates, and life-long friends who’s impact on my life cannot be overstated. We are a group of individuals who, though we might be pursuing different fields, are all working towards a common goal of improving the world we live in. I have been listening to a book by Ed Catmull, the president and founder of Pixar Animation, and he talks about the community of students he was a part of in college and all of the things that they went on to achieve: founding Adobe, creating 3D computer renderings of the human body, and inventing the concept of graphical user interfaces. When I look at the Goodnight Scholars Program, I am excited because I see myself as a part of a similar group of students. The atmosphere that has been created by the scholars, professional staff, and donors is one of openness and innovation which embodies a lot of what the program means to me.

Where do you picture yourself after graduation?

After graduation, I am planning on pursuing a medical degree and specializing in cardiology or infectious disease. Since high school I have had a passion for working in developing countries, and my overarching goal while pursuing the medical field is to bring healthcare to those who do not have access to it. I am not completely certain where that pursuit will take me, whether it is in health policy, the non-profit sector, or private practice but I am excited to find out! I am currently very interested in the prospect of growing human body parts such as bone or cardiac muscle for use in transplants and repair. I hope that in the future I will find myself in a position doing research in that field and work with professionals such as Nina Tandon that are revolutionizing how we view personalized medicine. I have learned throughout my college experience thus far that it is futile to pretend like I am sure of what I am doing, as that only leads to me changing course. While I believe that medical school is calling my name, I am excited to see where God takes me in the next three years!

Photography credit: Jason Perry/Goodnight Scholars Program