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Aquinas Tutor and Professor Shares His Journey to Becoming a Teacher

An Aquinas education encourages its students to explore their strengths and abilities to find where they best fit as servants in the wider world, but it is easy to forget that the College also allows its faculty and staff to do the same. Some see working at Aquinas as the fulfillment of a long-term dream, while others discover the College and are positively surprised by what they find. One testament to this is Brian Parsons, whose life journey has taken him through many forms of work as he exercises his diverse talents, ultimately bringing him to Aquinas.

“I just finished up my third year at Aquinas,” Parsons said. From Cincinnati, Ohio, where he once served as a high school English teacher, Parsons has employed his passion for working with students in the service of the Aquinas student body. Parsons’ work is varied, but it all began when he saw a job opportunity here after making the move to Michigan with his wife.

“When I got to Michigan, I saw an opening at Aquinas for a writing tutor in the TRiO program,” Parsons explained. “They ended up offering me the position. For the first year and a half, I was there on a part-time basis, then somebody on our staff left, which opened up a full-time position. In addition to that, I’m also an adjunct professor, teaching a section of Inquiry and Expression, the personal composition class, each semester.”

Though much of his life’s work has been as a teacher in one form or another, Parsons said teaching wasn’t something he initially saw himself doing. “We all have our astronaut dreams or things that as kids we latch on to,” he said. “For me, my goal - my destiny, I thought - was to be a sports writer. I’m a big sports fan. In college, I did an internship with the Philadelphia 76ers in their PR department. It seemed everything was progressing toward that.”

Life is full of surprises, however, and Parsons can testify to that. “What happened is life, as it often does, intervened. My wife and I met where I was doing my undergrad studies. I had an offer to, after school, go into public relations for an agricultural company, or work for a suburban newspaper.” Ultimately, Parsons took the job in public relations, but after while began to reevaluate his goals for the future and even wrote down his strengths so that he had a visual referent as his made his next decisions.

“I said, ‘You know, a lot of what I consider my skill sets, my strengths, are working with students or communicating with individuals. I enjoyed that aspect of it,” Parsons said. After a meeting with a professor to discuss his anxieties about making such a huge leap into a different career path, Parsons made the decision that would eventually bring him to Aquinas. He went back to school to become a teacher.

“Working with the students, I found that I enjoyed it more. I felt like this was God preparing me - like this is where I should have been all along!” said Parsons.

Parsons added that even though he grew up Episcopalian, he feels that Aquinas’ Catholic heritage is one of its positive aspects, and that the mindsets of the movements are very similar. The hardworking Aquinas student body is another positive draw. “It’s refreshing to see students that are excited about being there,” he said. “They have meaning for being there, so they actively seek you out. I like that approach.”