Parr says ‘hola’ to college

Published 8:44 pm Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bracey Parr, valedictorian for Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s Class of 2011, plans to spend his college years in Spain. He will major in Spanish and hopes to minor in English and journalism.

While most of his friends are going to colleges just a few hours away from home, Bracey Parr will be adjusting to college life thousands of miles away from Suffolk in Madrid.

But the 2011 Nansemond-Suffolk Academy valedictorian isn’t too worried about the transition, because he has visited Spain twice and speaks Spanish almost fluently. He also has wanted to study in Spain since his sophomore year in high school.

He credits Spanish teacher Diane Ligler, who earned her degree in Madrid, with helping him come to the unusual decision.

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“She really inspired me to do this,” Parr said. “She’s the one who put me in this direction. Spanish is what I love to do, and there’s no better place to learn than the mother country.”

So when the time came for Parr to choose a college, he applied to the Madrid campus of St. Louis University, a Missouri-based school.

Parr said he applied to an American school after he learned credits from a Spanish university sometimes aren’t transferrable to the United States.

In addition to studying Spanish, Parr wants to minor in English and communications and earn a certification in Latin American and Iberian studies.

Although he isn’t sure what he wants he wants to do with his life after college, Parr said he is considering both teaching and journalism as possible careers. Whatever he ends up doing, though, he wants a career that will offer him the chance to travel around the world.

“I want to pick the route that makes me the happiest, not the one that makes me the most money,” he said. “I feel like no matter what career path I choose I want to be the best at that.”

Parr said he has always striven to be the best at what he does. In high school, he said, he knew he needed to work hard in high school to get the grades that could get him into the best colleges. He also took all advanced placement classes his senior year in order to get ahead in college.

With all the credits he’s acquired in high school, Parr is already ranked as a sophomore in college.

He said he wanted to make sure he got a head start for college, because so many students aren’t able to finish school in four years.

But his dedication to his academics didn’t come without a price. Parr said after his junior year, he felt burnt out from trying to balance his studies with several extracurricular activities and sports.

When he started 12th grade, he made the hard choice to stop playing tennis, which he had played for four years, to reduce his stress level.

But Parr still had plenty to keep him busy during his senior year.

He participated in concert and marching band, in which he played three instruments: clarinet, sousaphone and bass drum.

Parr also played piano outside of school, was a member of Students Against Destructive Decisions, took part in all of NSA’s musicals and participated in the youth group at Suffolk Christian Church.

He also founded NSA’s glee club, which performed popular songs that he had rescored.

During college, he said, he wants to get a great education, but he also wants to make the most of the experience.

“I want to enjoy what I’m learning and make the best of it,” he said.