When Moesha Parsons ’20 received her acceptance to William & Mary in the spring of 2016, she couldn’t believe her eyes — she had received a full scholarship.
She immediately texted her mom to celebrate with her. This moment was a dream come true — Parsons, the valedictorian of her high school class, would be going to William & Mary.
“I am really looking forward to move-in,” she said in a video back in 2016. “I feel like it’s just the beginning of another chapter of my life. It’s going to be so fast paced, I want to really cherish every moment of the day. I’m super excited and ready to be on campus with the rest of my Tribe family.”
Now, four years later, Parsons is celebrating another dream come true — graduating with her Tribe family and obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree.
In a video filmed during the Virtual Commencement ceremony on May 16, Parson reflected on what her graduation means to her.
“We did it,” she says. “The ‘we’ means so much. The ‘we’ stands for my friends, my family, my church family, my William & Mary family, my donors — everybody who helped get me to where I am with a degree in neuroscience and a minor in biochemistry. We did it together.”
Scholarships are essential so that every exceptional student admitted to William & Mary can have the opportunity to attend and reach his or her full potential without financial burden. They are a top priority of the For the Bold campaign and will continue to be a priority for William & Mary after the campaign ends on June 30, 2020. As of May 12, almost $300 million had been raised, creating 538 new opportunities for students like Parsons to receive scholarships.
Parsons will be continuing on to get her Master of Health Science at Meharry Medical College in Nashville and then matriculate into the incoming medical school class. She hopes to become a pediatrician and one day open her own clinic to help provide people in low-income neighborhoods access to quality healthcare.
She leaves a legacy of helping others at William & Mary. As a student, Parsons founded Minorities in Medicine, a student organization for pre-med students of color. Though she has graduated, the organization will continue to support future students like her. During senior year, she was honored by the 7 Society for making a difference on campus.
“William & Mary creates opportunities, and you just have to use those opportunities,” says Parsons.
All four years at William & Mary, Parsons was a W&M Scholar in the William & Mary Scholars Undergraduate Research Experience program (WMSURE). Scholars are academically distinguished students who have overcome unusual adversity and/or are members of underrepresented groups who would contribute to campus diversity. They receive a full in-state tuition scholarship, renewable each year, and receive individualized support services to help them succeed academically and pursue undergraduate research.
“Over the past four years, I have seen daily evidence of Moesha’s commitment to academic excellence and service to others, first as a student in my freshman seminar and later as a research assistant in my lab and mentor to other scholarship recipients,” says Cheryl Dichter, associate professor of psychological sciences and co-director of WMSURE. “She is a natural leader and her passion for lifting others as she climbs has been evident in everything she does.”
Parsons looks back over her journey from wide-eyed freshman, eager to take everything in, to self-confident, accomplished graduate, and she smiles. She ends her video message with a word of thanks to those who helped her William & Mary dream come true.
“Thank you to the scholarship donors — they made everything possible, where a little girl like me from Portsmouth can go to a big research institution like William & Mary and graduate debt free,” she says. “I thank you so much for looking at me and saying ‘Hey, you’re going to make a difference, we believe in you, we love you, we care for you and we support you.’”