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Student Spotlight: Haden Parrish

Get to know Men's Leadership Project Big Brother, Haden Parrish! 
Year: 4th
Major: Sociology and African and African American Studies 
Hometown: Fluvanna County, Va
Why are you passionate about your program? 
I am the youngest person in my family and always felt like I missed out on having a younger sibling/a sibling closer to me in age. The past two years I was an RA, and while that was a great experience and brought me close to others both as a mentor and a mentee, I felt like I had never been involved in that role in a non-college context. MLP was my chance to mentor a middle school aged person, and I'm so thankful for this opportunity. My Little Brother in MLP has become an important aspect of my life, not only do I get to share with him my college and Charlottesville experience, but he has taught me so much - from drone design to the troubles middle schoolers face today. Although we differ in many ways, I knew we clicked when one week I played "Super Bass" by Nicki Minaj for him, and the following week he requested it on his own.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 
Life and plans could change, but I hope to have a career in Student Affairs in Higher Education, hopefully here at UVA. More importantly, I hope to have a family back on our farm in Fluvanna, surrounded by fields of cows!
How has a mentor impacted you (alternatively, what have you learned from serving as a mentor)? 
In high school, I had three people I considered mentors, my guidance counselor, my AP Gov teacher, and the school librarian. All three of these people challenged me, but also encouraged me to challenge the world around me. They were critical in my development of passion for others, showing me the opportunities that I had and how to do the same for others. I definitely see that reflected in my career goals, while I don't want to work on the academic side of higher education, I hope to work to support students so that they can get the very best out of their education and their experience here at UVA. Obviously academia is more important than I can express in words, but I am a firm believer that the interactions we have with individuals and institutions are what shape us as human beings and help us to find what our passions are.
What is something you do differently from other people? 
I get very excited about being trained. For example, both RA and OL training occur over a two week period, and for the majority over those two weeks I am very excited and can't wait for the session to start. I think I get excited for two reasons: I want to know more about the programs and institutions I'm committing to, and I want to be prepared for any scenario I might face during that time. Although I wouldn't call myself a morning person, if there is a training session to go to, I'm usually early and ready to get started.
What other organizations are you involved with at UVA? 
I somehow miraculously pulled off the advice that most fourth year students get and prioritized my involvements to things I could best give my time to. This semester I am a Peer Health Educator as well as on the Outreach Team for Madison House HelpLine (in addition to MLP).  I am so thankful for these organizations because they allow me to work with students on a peer to peer basis. Although I love the past organizations I've been involved with, MLP, PHE and HelpLine Outreach gives me the opportunity to help specific people with their specific concerns (and often get help from them as well). Not only is the work rewarding, but so are the people in these organizations. These people are involved because they care about their peers and potential that each person holds, and it's great to see that faith in others at work.  Quick plug (since I am on Outreach), HelpLine is a 24/7 service run by student volunteers to provide a free, confidential, and anonymous space for others to talk. No problem is too big or small. If you need to talk, they are there to listen as 434-295-TALK.

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