Tyriq Butler, Continuing Writer
It seems like it was just yesterday. The devastating news about a tragic death permeated throughout campus and left everyone who had ever come in contact with him stunned, heartbroken, speechless, and confused. Emerging from this nightmare came a sentiment shared by many: We are fortunate to have known Terrence Emmanuel Parker.
Last Monday, the students of SUNY Oneonta came together to honor one of our own; that day marked a year since his passing. This isn’t an anniversary to be celebrated. No one is enamored with the idea that everyone has to refer to Parker in the past tense, but it is certainly heartwarming to see that his presence is still felt, and the “gone but never forgotten” mantra sensed on the streets of Oneonta.
Athletes are customarily defined by statistics and hardware. To some degree, students are usually judged based on their grades and school awards. Parker was as good of a basketball player as there was on campus, and he was no slouch in the classroom either. He was ultimately defined by his character and for good reason. If you ever found yourself lacking in confidence or in dire need of inspiration, you hoped you would cross paths with Parker because he would surely change your attitude in a heartbeat.
Jeff Williams, one of Parker’s best friends, is no stranger to that impact. After graduating from the college, Williams recently embarked on a journey in pursuit of his masters degree at Hunter College. He says one of the reasons he decided to attend graduate school is something he learned from his beloved friend Parker. He motivated Williams to chase after his dreams with the same hunger he had while he was alive. Since Parker’s dreams were cut short, Williams says he has every desire to watch his goals come to fruition.
It doesn’t stop there. “Paradise T” is the name Parker came to be known as thanks to his passion for music. He had his sights set on a career in the industry; some of his music is still on SoundCloud.
“His music helps me to remain focused,” Williams said, “Whether it’s simply going to class or running errands, to something as big as going on ajob interview or a monumental meeting. He gives me that ‘Eye of the Tiger’ mentality.”
The impact is clearly evident, but we’re well aware that his undergraduate tenure wasn’t unblemished. Parker endured challenges that, at the time, might have seemed overwhelming and detrimental. The true form of his character was revealed during these times.
After facing some trouble and being suspended for an entire year, Parker had every right to seek greener pastures at another institution. Better yet, he had an excuse to give up the college dream all together and amount it to a simple: “school just isn’t for me.”
That didn’t prove to be the case. Parker stared adversity in the eyes and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. He embraced the difficulties and used it to create a sweeter narrative. The journey continued and in May of 2014, Parker was able to smile at his commencement ceremony knowing he was overcome by a riveting testimony.
Regardless of what your religious background is or where you believe Parker’s spirit lies, everyone can collectively agree that his presence isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and that the legacy he worked so hard for has been cemented.
If we could bring him back for just five minutes and put him on a stage to talk about his accomplishments and how he feels about the outpouring of love and legacy, he wouldn’t boast, pump his chest or exude any cockiness. He’d simply direct the attention to all the loved ones who inspired him and contributed to his growth. It wouldn’t take him too long to spout some type of motivational message.
That’s the kind of person he was, selfless and humble. That’s why the very sound of someone saying his name, playing his music, or recalling a memory plays so beautifully on everyone’s heartstrings. Terrence Emmanuel Parker: you’re the real MVP.