The course of Angela Parker has been steady, despite the tumult that life threw. The mother of nine children earned her bachelor’s degree this month from Brigham Young University — two online classes at a time.
With nine children, a husband in jail, and a full-time job, Parker continued her steady pace to finish what she started long ago — a college degree.
Her husband will be released from two years of incarceration later this year, due to drug-related problems.
Parker said 12 News covered his case, and reporters harassed her at home. It’s tempting to focus on Parker’s husband and his affect on her life.
Had Parker done that, she likely would not have earned her diploma. Instead, she faced life with patience and dignity. She took care of her family while taking care of herself at a time when forgetting herself would have been easy.
She still worked and drove her children to soccer games. She put the little ones to bed and then kicked the bigger ones off the computer so she could complete her coursework.
She altered her plans, choosing to pursue the more practical general studies with an emphasis in management instead of her childhood dream of animal science.
Life changes, Parker said, and we must change with it.
Parker, who grew up in Phoenix, first took three semesters of traditional college classes at Brigham Young following high school. She wanted to study animal science, but ended up taking many prerequisites, which she later applied to the general studies degree.
But she had already met her husband, fell in love, and wanted to start her life with him.
She repeatedly thought about returning to school, but always decided to wait until her children grew older.
“I kept putting it off,” she said. “Then I kept having kids, so I decided, better do it now.”
Her girlhood ideal of becoming a veterinarian, with the large amount of coursework required, became impractical for a mother of nine.
In 1997, Parker earned an associate’s degree in business administration from a Nevada school. Her husband worked in construction, and so the family had moved there for work.
In January of 1995, Parker had submitted all of her financial aid information to start school that fall. Shortly after, she became pregnant with her daughter Alix.
“I’d take her to class with me, and she was really good,” Parker said.
Most of her classes, however, were in the evening, and her husband, who had not yet begun to have problems, took care of the children.
In 2004, Parker began online classes through a program at BYU specifically for those who already earned academic credit at the school.
“It was great. It made it so easy,” she said, because of the flexible schedule.
Parker’s husband went to jail in October of 2007, and Parker paused her classes from June 2007 to January 2009.
In May 2007, she started working full-time in building safety with the county. She has since been promoted to Community Development’s office manager.
To handle stress, Parker and a friend walked.
Both had many children, and both took classes part-time.
Often, the walks began at a frenzied pace only to slow as their minds quieted.
“Some days, if there was a lot of stress, we would be talking and walking real fast,” Parker said. On less stressful days, the frenetic pace slowed.
“It’s good to have someone to talk to,” she said.
Parker said her support systems, which included church, were invaluable.
Her children are proud, she says, but not astounded by their mother’s fortitude. She wanted to set an example for them as much as she wanted a degree for herself.
And now, the balloons and flowers decorating Parker’s desk show just how far one can go two classes at a time.