Wolverine Stories: David Parker

Believe in yourself, because that's the first person that's going to lead the army that will roll up behind you.

David Parker

David Parker

A Dream to Become a Physician

I guess my career started in the ‘80s, working in the film industry. People say, “Oh, you worked in the film industry. You were on the team that won the Oscar for ‘Dream Girls’ for sound.” I never got into filmmaking because it was my dream. My dream was, I needed a job to feed myself, and that’s literally how I got into the film industry in the ‘80s. So, it was never my dream. But for people that it is your dream, I support that dream. I think it’s a wonderful place to work if that’s what you want to do. I’ve always dreamed of being a physician.

No Place To Go

So yeah, I got into film. However, there are problems that occur when you have no education and a ton of money. You get bored. So I developed a 17-year cocaine and methamphetamine addiction, which ended with me in a rehabilitation center.

When I finally got clean, I was very excited to get out of rehab and start this brand-new life. I couldn’t wait to get back to the film industry, and the last thing my counselor told me, he’s like, “Oh, you could never go back to the film industry. That is the catalyst for your demise.” And I’m like, “Well, okay, not sure what I’ll do then.” But, of course, you know, being a dope fiend, you tend to lose everything and the people around you, which included my family. So I got out of rehab and had no place to go.

I walked right up to the front desk at a Ramada hotel. I said, “Hey, are you hiring?” And I got that job. I was happy, and I can’t remember the last time that I had been happy — like, earnestly happy in my heart and soul. Excited to seize the day, get up, you know, in fact, brag about where I’m working.

So my [church leader] came to me one day, and he said, “You know, Dave, are you going to work at the Ramada hotel? You know, for the rest of your days?” I said, “Yeah, yeah, pretty much. It sounds like a good idea to me. I don’t see what’s wrong with this.” Of course, you know, I always wanted to be a doctor. That was always a dream since I was like six years old. He’s like, “Well, why don’t you go back to school?” I said, “Because I’m 48 years old. That’s why I’m not going back to school. That just seems crazy.”

David Parker

First College Class

My freshman year, my very first day, my very first college class was a math class at 8 o’clock in the morning in the snow. However, the other side of that is if I didn’t do well in this class, then that would be the defining moment for me — as that maybe college is not for me.

The day of my first exam came around, and I was the last person left in the room. The professor [Jae Song] says to me, “Dave, you gotta turn in your exam.” I said, “No.”

Because so much was written on that exam. Because that was it for me. If I don’t pass this exam, then it’s no sense even trying anymore. The professor says, “Dave, just bring your exam up. You have been to every office hour that I have. You have been there even when you don’t have questions. You have done every homework assignment. You have done the extra assignments. You have done everything you can. I know that you are prepared for this. We are going to grade your exam right now, so you can have peace of mind.” And I was in tears. I mean, I was broken. I don’t even know how I made it through the next five minutes it took for him to grade the entire exam. He looked at me and said, “See, I told you you did okay.” I got the highest score in the class.

He didn’t have to say or do anything. All he had to do was collect the test. He took that moment in time to be human. So, at the end of the day, it wasn’t the score on the test. It was the fact that I knew that here at UVU, human beings exist, and they would understand.

David Parker

Lessons From Rehab to the Lab

I happened to notice when I was in rehab the people that were meth heads, like myself, had their wounds healed in a different way. I thought that was interesting. So when they asked me what I want to do my research on, immediately I said, “I would like to do my research on meth and wound proliferation.”

My research involves the exploration of the protein TGF beta in macrophage cells. TGF beta is a cytokine responsible for wound proliferation. It heals your wound, so if you get a cut or you get hurt, immediately, your body reacts. It sends these helper cells we call macrophage cells. The macrophage cells are completely adaptable. So the macrophage cells go to the site of the infection or the injury.

David Parker

Through that research, we’re able to find that one of the amazing things about TGF beta cells is that they help in the metastasis of cancer cells. So if we found that we were able to interrupt the production of TGF beta, there’s a possibility that we could interrupt the metastasis of cancer cells. So just flowing through life, looking at meth heads, I’m like, “Hey, what’s this?” So I kind of stumbled across a possible avenue in the future that a treatment for cancer could be derived from. I will be attending Harvard University this summer to work at their research facilities in conjunction with this project.

Advice to Wolverines: Believe in Yourself

Believe in yourself, because that's the first person that's going to lead the army that will roll up behind you.



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