Young alumni couple starts giving back with Century Club membership
Release Date: October 22, 2009
AMARILLO – Joey and Christie Parsons know they want to give back to the university that gave them so much and headed them on the road to their current careers. But as young alumni who just completed master’s degrees as well, their debt load doesn’t allow them to make big gifts just yet.
That’s why the couple chose to join the Century Club at Wayland Baptist University as a way to begin their giving pattern while they are still young. For their $100 contribution to undesignated funds, the Parsons are able to impact their alma mater even as they are just beginning their careers.
Their desire to give comes from a gratitude for the guidance, wisdom and knowledge they received while students at Wayland, for the mentoring from faculty and staff and the shaping of their characters. Both attribute their current success and confidence to their Wayland experience.
A native of Amarillo, Joey came to Wayland on a baseball scholarship after looking into junior college options to continue his playing career.
“What ultimately sold me on Wayland that I told (Coach Brad) Bass that I wanted to go into law after school, and he talked to me about starting at a university that would be more challenging and allow me to finish on time,” he said.
For the Pioneers, Parsons played outfield and designated hitter, enjoying the camaraderie and friendships he made while on and off the field. On the academic side, he majored in political science and business, hoping to fulfill a lifelong dream to practice law one day. He found the Wayland experience helpful in preparing for law school.
“Dr. (Geoff) Wells is a great professor. A lot of people are frightened of him because he’s brilliant, but the way he conducts his classes really prepare you for a master’s level education,” Joey said. The foundation of research and multitude of term papers he completed at the undergraduate level really set him up for success in law school.
In the fall of 2004, just a few months before he graduated from Wayland, Parsons met longtime Plainview attorney Paul Lyle at Dinner with the President, sparking a working and mentoring relationship that has been mutually beneficial. Lyle encouraged him to pursue law school, and Parsons took the LSAT in December 2004 just before graduation. But it would be a while before he took the plunge.
Parsons worked for Lyle for the 18 months or so following graduation, doing research and marketing for several books that Lyle was publishing on educational law. He also helped manage Lyle’s rental properties. Though he had begun the admissions process for law schools, he admittedly was dragging his feet through the lengthy process. Finally, Lyle and Parsons’ other Wayland mentor, Hope English, strongly encouraged him to finish the applications and get serious about law school.
At the same time, Parsons’ girlfriend, Christie Smith, a native of Kingwood, was wrapping up her psychology degree at WBU, so it seemed a natural time for a change of scenery. His LSAT scores resulted in a full scholarship from Washburn University’s School of Law in Topeka, Kan., and after a visit to the campus, both Joey and Christie decided to pursue their graduate work at the small school.
While in law school, Parsons was the secretary for the Business Law Society and earned a certificate in business and transactional law with distinction along with his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. Graduating a semester early in December 2008, Parsons was the highest ranking graduate among Washburn’s law school grads in that ceremony. He also worked for a plaintiff’s firm for the majority of his law school time, gaining valuable experience part-time in the semesters and full-time in the summers.
From his office window overlooking downtown Amarillo, Parsons admits his dream become reality is still somewhat surreal. He passed the bar exam and is now employed with the Mayfield, Crutcher and Sharpee firm back in his own hometown, a firm that handles litigation in insurance, medical and family law cases.
Meanwhile, Christie, whom he married in May 2008, is beginning her new job at the Panhandle Assessment Center, an emergency shelter for foster children, where she counsels children about their backgrounds and experiences. She admits she’s found her niche, and she credits much of that to her Wayland professors who helped her discover her interests and career path.
“My brother Mike went to Wayland, and I had visited him one weekend but didn’t think that’s where I would end up,” she recalls. “After that visit, I knew that was where I was supposed to be. I just loved the people and their love for each other and for God and wanting to be better people.”
She enrolled in 2002, admitting she had no idea what she’d study. After four different majors, she finally settled into psychology, knowing she wanted to work with people but unsure about the counseling route. As she researched the social work program at Washburn, the master’s degree seemed appealing. She also had the opportunity to work in several areas of social work so she could hone her interests. She worked at a facility for teen girls and at a family guidance center and completed her practicum at Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Her clinical rotation at a substance-abuse treatment facility was particularly eye-opening.
“I fell in love with that, and I never thought I would,” she said.
After they both graduated in December 2008, the Parsonses moved to Fort Worth in search of jobs, and Christie worked in drug prevention education and for a nonprofit. But things just didn’t seem to be working out and the pair began considering the panhandle area for options.
“The minute we decided to pursue Amarillo, God just opened door after door and He’s still opening them,” Christie said. They both found jobs quickly, bought their first home near where Joey grew up and have already found a church home in Hillside Christian Church, all in the span of a few months.
Life feels like it’s coming full circle for the young couple who began their climb at Wayland, and Christie said the small, family atmosphere at WBU contributed greatly to her blossoming into a confident young woman.
“At Wayland, you can’t slip through the cracks. It helped me break out of my shell and learn to be more confident in myself,” she said. “It really has made me who I am.”
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Wayland’s Century Club membership requires a $100 annual donation, payable in installments at the donor’s convenience. Funds are undesignated, meaning they are used as the university deems necessary, often for scholarships, emergency repairs, technology upgrades and other unforeseen expenses that occur on the college campus. Membership is tax deductible to the fullest extent the law allows.
Businesses are encouraged to support Wayland through Century Club membership as well, adding a dollar donation per each year of the business’ existence in Plainview.
For more information on the Century Club, contact Mike Melcher, Director of Corporate Giving, at (806) 291-3431. Gifts can be made online with a credit card at https://give.wbu.edu and specifying Century Club.