Skip Menu
Email Us!

Darryl Parker realized his potential and purpose after transferring to MSU 

embedded-news-darryl-parker-500x650.webpFor Darryl Parker (Class of 2022), the decision to attend college was not an option. It was the decision he knew would change his trajectory.  

"Living life in the real world, I learned that you can't go far without a college degree," Parker said. "Being a first-generation student, I wanted to lead by example, not just for my family, but for others that look like me in this area."  

Parker earned his GED and then graduated as a transfer student at Morehead State University, where he said he was able to find both preparation and purpose for his current role as coordinator of cultural diversity at Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC).  

Parker came to HCTC as a transfer student looking for a change from his hometown of Lexington. With his family's support and a positive experience with HCTC staff that "treated me like a person regardless of the color of my skin," Parker enrolled at HCTC and earned an associate degree in science and an associate degree in art in 2020. Tracy Counts, an enrollment services counselor for post-traditional students at MSU, consulted with Parker at her office at HCTC about transferring.  

"I really wasn't sure if I wanted to go to MSU at first. Well, that was until I met Tracy Counts here at HCTC," Parker said. "We had several talks, and she took the time to go over a lot of things MSU had to offer. That's what won me over. She actually cared and took her time to explain everything in detail...taking the time to listen to what I wanted to do."  

Before Parker transferred to MSU, he started as a student worker for HCTC before being hired as a recruitment specialist and later the college's first social media student liaison for the Office of Equity and Inclusion. While working, he completed his MSU degree online, earning a Bachelor of University Studies in December 2022.  

While earning his degree from MSU, Parker focused on leadership and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Parker is involved with several local community service events, including A Seat at the Table dinners, The Poetry Slam and Art Show, and gathering and delivering food to local blessing boxes. He has also chaperoned a trip for local high school students to visit the Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati.  

Parker serves on several boards and committees and is a member of several organizations, including UK (University of Kentucky) North Fork Valley Community Health Center, Pathfinders of Perry County, Housing Development Alliance, Appalachian Arts Alliance, HCTC's Equity and Inclusion Committee, American Association of Blacks in Higher Education, HCTC's Student Government Association, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, People of Color Caucus, Back Home Together, Southeast Kentucky African American Cultural Center and Museum and the Appalachian Studies Association.  

"My motivation to be involved with various groups and organizations is to promote positive changes here. Given that a lot of the time I'm the only person of color in the room, it means something to me," he said. "It displays that we are changing, and when others that look like me see me in these spaces, they know we are about to shake some stuff up in a positive way. Representation means more than what people realize."  

In 2022, the Kentucky Student Success Collaborative selected Parker as one of three Kentucky college students to serve as a student voice research fellow. The student voice fellows gather information on students' experiences at Kentucky's public colleges and universities. Student voice fellows conduct surveys and one-on-one interviews and lead focus groups. The criteria for selection included verbal, written and presentation skills, understanding issues facing diverse students and an interest in improving the college student experience.  

"What has benefitted me the most is the work I'm doing with the Student Success Collaborative, which is a part of CPE (Council on Postsecondary Education)," he said. "With this platform, it is making sure our student voices are heard."   

The same year Parker earned his degree from MSU, HCTC hired him for his current role as coordinator of cultural diversity. He said this position was a combination of a 180-degree turn and things coming full circle. Where he was initially reluctant to get out into the Hazard community as a student, he is now actively seeking a future generation of minority students and emphasizing the importance of a college degree to make their lives better.  

"I noticed there was a great need for black men in higher education and a need in this community for the work that we are doing," he said. I noticed there was a great need for black men in higher education and a need in this community for the work that we are doing," he said. "It wasn't so much as for me to choose this work, but the work chose me."  

Find out how to transfer to MSU by visiting

Contact Us