A summer study abroad trip to South Africa was a significant time in recent graduate Brandon Parrish’s collegiate career. Parrish ’17, a former guard on the TCU Men’s Basketball team, completed four years as both an athlete and student in a science discipline. This was a challenging combination, yet one that Parrish says taught him more than he imagined.
From a young age, Parrish became familiar with TCU through a childhood friend who envisioned the duo attending TCU together someday. When Parrish was offered a basketball scholarship to TCU his senior year of high school, he seized the opportunity to stay close to his family and play for a Big 12 school.
In his freshman season, Parrish started 30 games. In his senior season his basketball career had shifted under the leadership of first-year Coach Jamie Dixon, yet Parrish noticed his passions and priorities grow and diversify throughout his collegiate career.
“One thing I learned from my time at TCU is that the passion I have for animals is real,” Parrish said. “I am in a unique position where I know exactly what I want to do and it is a beautiful place to be in.”
He says from his earliest memories he remembers loving animals. As a child Parish’s favorite movie was The Lion King, and when the opportunity to study animal conservation and biodiversity in South Africa presented itself, he pursued it.
“My study abroad trip in South Africa was a dream come true as an adamant animal enthusiast. On the trip I was sitting in a safari jeep in front of lions, elephants and cheetahs – closer than many people will ever be to those types of animals,” Parrish said. “One thing I realized there is how fast you learn through experience in the field. That trip for me was a defining moment for my life. It taught me a lot about myself and showed me that my passion for animals is for real and this is what I am meant to do.”
“Nothing else has brought so much joy to my life and felt so natural – aside from basketball,” Parrish said. “To top it off, we were actually helping with animal conservation, and I got to have hands-on experiences with animals like wildebeests, elephants and rhinos.”
Ultimately, Parrish envisions himself involved with animal conservation someday. The road to graduation hasn’t always been easy as a student in the sciences, but Parrish advises that it is critical to stay open-minded and to try new things in college.
As a former student athlete in the sciences, Parrish had to meet the commitments of his athletics team and lab times for various science courses.
“It was tough at times, but the tougher it got, the smarter I got. The challenge helped me learn how to be successful. Science is not something that comes easily – it is lots of repetition,” Parrish said. “Through trial and tribulation I became a better student and learned to overcome.”
Parrish advises incoming students not to be afraid to push personal limits. He says the college experience teaches you a lot about life.
“TCU has changed my life. It has taken me places that I would have never imagined, and helped me find myself. Through the challenges of being a college student athlete, I have learned so much about myself and I know that I am capable of more than I’d ever imagined,” Parrish said. “It has shaped me into the positive person that I am today in so many ways, so I am forever indebted.”
Parrish graduated with a bachelor’s degree in combined science in May.