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Statesman Scholar Parrish Family

When Alyssa Parrish receives her diploma from Richard Bland College of William & Mary in a few weeks, she will share the excitement with a very special classmate.

“No one in the graduating class can say they’re graduating with their dad,” explains Alyssa, “and they’re going to call my name first,” she jokes of the alphabetical list. “I think this has been a really cool opportunity for my dad, and I’m proud that he was able to finally finish his degree at the same time I am.”

Alyssa’s father, Eric Parrish, started at RBC in 1990 but decided to put his education on hold to work full-time.

Visiting the campus with Alyssa ahead of her first semester inspired him to finally complete the requirements for an associate degree.

Remembering his conversation with a Richard Bland learner mentor, Eric was told he was two and a half classes short. “I thought, ‘Let’s just do it,’” Eric says. “Alyssa and I decided to take an online class together.”

The father-daughter duo enrolled in the Comparative Government course, which helped to start a new chapter in their relationship.

“It was kind of funny because we were always saying, ‘What did the teacher say about your paper?’ We were competing,” Alyssa and Eric both reminisce. ”‘How long did it take you to do your homework?’” they often asked one another.

Eric adds, “That class turned out well. And now we will be graduating together. Alyssa is on time, and I am some 20 years in the making.”

The commencement ceremony will mark the end of Eric’s higher learning journey.

“Animals — they’re all so unique,” Alyssa explains about her lifelong dream to be a zoologist. “They could be from the same species, but they’re not the same. I know specifically at zoos they all have different personalities, and you can see that when you’re there.”

While Eric chose to finish his degree with online courses, Alyssa took most of her classes on campus. She also stayed engaged by working in the college library and by participating in a trip to West Virginia to study ecology.

“She’s going to school for something she really wants to do,” Eric remarks.

Attending VCU is now more attainable for Alyssa, who appreciates that RBC allowed her to earn general education credits almost entirely debt-free.

“That’s a big draw,” she says about the tuition. “It’s more affordable than many of the other options in the area.”

“I enjoy what I do,” Eric says about his current job as a dock worker for FedEx Freight. “With my RBC degree, I now have more options if something comes up that matches my skill set.”

For the father-daughter pair, the College has truly allowed them to create their journey.

“At RBC students are given the opportunity to really focus on yourself and who you want to become,” Alyssa says. “It’s been a great experience.”

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