Kennesha Parker, a senior English major with a minor in crime and justice, began her final semester at Bridgewater College full of excitement for what the semester would bring.
She was gaining new experiences through an internship at the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, with which her advisor, Dr. Tim Brazill, Associate Professor of Sociology, connected her.
Parker, who enjoys interacting with others, was in her third year serving as a Resident Advisor (RA) in her residence hall.
“My residents’ personalities and energies fill me with so much joy,” Parker said. “I enjoy celebrating their highs, and I am thankful to be able to watch them grow.”
Through Parker’s RA role, Bridgewater College has set her up with skills for success, such as understanding how people are different, and learning that taking initiative is not something of which to be afraid.
Parker has acquired the skills required to be an effective leader, including taking the first step—even when it is difficult.
“Bridgewater College has taught me to be a better listener and to ask questions—even if the answers are not the ones you want to hear,” Parker said.
As an English major, Parker connected with Dr. Stan Galloway, Professor of English and Director of the Bridgewater College International Poetry Festival.
Encouraged by Galloway to assist with the poetry festival, Parker is in her fourth year of helping with the event, which has given her the opportunity to meet some of her inspirations, including poet Patricia Asuncion.
At the start of spring semester, Parker was busy working on logistics and advertising in preparation for the May 2020 festival at the College.
Then, the unexpected happened—the coronavirus global pandemic drastically changed the course of everyone’s lives. On March 11, the College’s administration proactively sent students home and moved all classes online.
Moving home to Laurel, Md., Parker found her connections at Bridgewater College remained steadfast and were a source of support during the transition period.
One of the biggest changes was transitioning from in-person classes to online classes.
“My professors have definitely helped keep me up with my classes by reaching out,” Parker said. “Many of them have truly been understanding and have made the transition so much easier.”
A disappointment for Parker was the necessity of giving up her internship with the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office as she was unable to physically be there.
And Parker continues to take her RA position seriously even though she is not physically present with her residents.
“Residence life staff says your RA cap is always on, and I keep that close to mind,” Parker said. “I check in with my residents making sure that they are OK and doing well. It’s been difficult not being able to see them or do the things on campus that I usually do with them, but I’m thankful that the community-building throughout the year was so strong that we aren’t too phased by social distancing!”
Parker said Bridgewater has helped her to stay connected to campus activities with which she was involved.
“The clubs and organizations I’m involved in have been continuing to meet virtually. I have felt closer and more connected with my peers despite social distancing,” Parker said.
Parker also stays connected to fellow classmates via a podcast that she co-hosts with Alexis Brown, a junior communication, technology and culture major with a minor in leadership, from Bowling Green, Va. The podcast is produced through BC Voice, a student-run news outlet on campus. The podcast serves the general student body, and consists of conversations that are both entertaining and insightful.
Parker continues to stay involved with the poetry festival and serves as a liaison between the poets and the director. Due to the coronavirus, this year’s festival will be a virtual event, with international poets performing original works.
Following graduation, Parker plans on pursuing a real estate license, as well as a position in higher education.