COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS—The Texas A&M Foundation Board of Trustees named Isolde Parrish ’20 as the recipient of the Foundation’s eighth Outstanding Student Award. She graduated with an animal science degree in May and will enroll in Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences in the fall.
Created in 2012 by former Foundation trustee and Texas A&M graduate Melbern Glasscock ’59 and his wife, Susanne, this endowed award publicly recognizes outstanding Texas A&M graduating seniors who succeeded in college despite experiencing personal or family financial challenges. Recipients are selected based on academic excellence and their role as a university and/or community leader.
To qualify for the award, students must also have demonstrated financial need and be recipients of one or more scholarships funded through the Texas A&M Foundation. The Outstanding Student Award provides a financial boost of at least $2,500 to help recipients enter the next phase of their lives.
“Isolde Parrish exemplifies the Aggie Spirit,” said Otway Denny Jr. ’71, chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “She’s remained committed to her own studies and professional dreams while also serving as a leader and role model for her classmates. Isolde has succeeded while helping her family face health challenges that would have derailed many students’ focus on their education. She’s an excellent representative of the type of Aggie for whom this award is designated.”
The oldest of five siblings, Parrish was born in upstate New York, where she developed an early love for animals. “We lived in an old farmhouse and had land in the country where we owned horses, dogs and other animals,” she said. “I developed a real love for them.”
Parrish and her family relocated to Central Texas when her father, who served in the U.S. Army, was stationed in Fort Hood. The family later moved to the nearby rural community of Troy after her father was deployed on a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq.
Throughout this time, Parrish continued exploring her passion for animals. By high school, she was participating in Future Farmers of America through judging teams and showing animals, as well as shadowing and volunteering in vet clinics.
When it came time to decide on a college, Texas A&M was the only higher education institution on Parrish’s list. “Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Because Texas A&M has one of the best vet schools in the nation, it’s where I wanted to go,” she said. “There was no question in my mind.”
Finding Success & Challenges in Aggieland
As a freshman in the Department of Animal Science, Parrish joined the Wool Judging Team, which was named the Reserve National Champion. “Without a doubt, it was one of my favorite experiences,” she said. “Participating in the judging team helped me improve my public speaking skills and also created connections with students and faculty members.”
She also took full advantage of other opportunities to become involved. Parrish studied abroad with her former Wool Judging coach, Dr. Shawn Ramsey, professor and assistant head of Undergraduate Student Affairs, and served as a Department of Animal Science research assistant for Dr. Tryon Wickersham, an associate professor. She also postponed her early graduation for her bachelor’s degree in order to receive a scholarship that allowed her to enroll concurrently in graduate classes to earn her master’s degree in ruminant nutrition.
During the course of her undergraduate studies, Parrish was involved in a number of extracurricular groups and activities, including the Pre-Vet Society, the Aron and Mary Lois Savell Leadership Mentor Program, Big Event and CARPOOL.
Parrish learned to manage her time and money while maintaining a strong focus on her schoolwork. In addition to receiving several scholarships, she worked in Texas A&M’s math department and the Public Policy Research Institute as a research assistant in order to make ends meet. “As I’ve paid my way through college, I value every dollar I earn and appreciate every dollar graciously donated to assist me in achieving my educational goals,” Parrish said.
While Parrish completed her bachelor’s degree in May, she has deferred finishing her master’s degree until summer 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, she will begin coursework in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine program this fall. After completing her doctorate, she is considering pursuing a veterinary specialization in nutrition and may work in the food agriculture sector.
Parrish plans to save the funds provided from the Outstanding Student Award while continuing to work in order to avoid taking out student loans for her doctoral education. “I am very honored by this award,” she said. “I tend to be hard on myself, so I was really flattered and felt that all of my hard work paid off by receiving this recognition from the Foundation’s Board.”
Texas A&M Foundation
The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aspires to be among the most trusted philanthropies in higher education. It builds a brighter future for Texas A&M University, one relationship at a time. To learn more, visit txamfoundation.com.