From homeless to doctoral student: GCU grad shares incredible journeyPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- A graduate student from Grand Canyon University overcame incredible odds to finish his degree, and his dream is only beginning.
Abe Parker served six years in the Army, spending part of that time fighting in Iraq. When he came home, he, like many veterans, faced some extremely tough times.
At first, Parker couldn't find work. When he finally landed a job at am Austin, Texas church, the economy tanked and he was jobless again. Homelessness soon followed.
"I spiraled into a deep depression," he said.
Parker had been taking online courses at Grand Canyon University. With things looking bleak in Texas, Parker thought perhaps he could find hope in on-campus classes at the private Christian university.
With only a few dollars in his pocket and two duffel bags containing everything he owned, Parker boarded a bus bound for Phoenix. That was last year.
"Frankly, I can here to Phoenix on a whim that maybe I'll be able to get some inspiration if I'm actually on this campus," Parker said.
That's exactly what happened. Grand Canyon University, with its tagline "find your purpose," is where Parker found his future.
Attending classes by day, he slept on a bench in the school's 24-hour church at night. Eating dollar-meals from McDonald's, he showered in a campus locker room and actually hid one of his duffels in some bushes for a couple of weeks.
Parker wanted his education and was determined to do whatever it took to get it.
He got a master's degree in Christian studies and is now working on his doctorate.
Word spread around campus about Parker and his incredible attitude and drive. It wasn't long before the university hired Parker to counsel other students.
Parker said his faith in God helped him through the toughest times.
"I knew that God had called me to do ministry and I know that that road is not always easy," he said. "I hear so many excuses, you know, why people can't make it, why they can't go to school, why they can't better their lives. I happily share my story and really quick, their excuses quickly evaporate."
In addition to pursuing his doctorate in organizational leadership with an emphasis in Christian ministry, Parker is building a non-profit business designed to help homeless vets. It's called "The Not Without Honor project."