Outstanding grad achieves success while raising eight children

February 22, 2009 by  

Cindy Parry

Cindy ParryIt's hard to tell what's more impressive about Kwantlen graduate Cindy Parry — that she recently won the President's Outstanding Graduate Award, or that she somehow managed to pull it off while raising eight children.

Kwantlen President David Atkinson presented Parry with the award at the annual convocation ceremony on Feb. 16 for her work in the Bachelor of Applied Psychology Honours program. Three days later, in an almost deserted Richmond campus cafeteria, Parry spoke about what drew her to psychology.

“I was in business for about 20 years, and I was pretty good at it, but one of the things that I found, that I really loved about business, was working with people,” she said. Parry was a regional trainer at Jenny Craig, training counsellors and sales staff. She left and started her own training company, but missed the hands-on work.

“As a manager, I found my staff kept coming to me saying things like, ‘Can you help me with this’, or they would tell me their life’s problems, and I would listen and give them advice, and then I sat back and thought, ‘Well, you know, if I’m going to give them all this advice, I should probably make sure the advice I’m giving them is good, that I’m not sending them down the wrong path’.”

Parry enrolled in Kwantlen and took a few psychology courses out of general interest. After the second course she decided to become a full-time student. She had found her life’s passion. “I absolutely loved it.”

Richmond was close to home for her, but what really endeared her were the instructors.

“They didn’t just read what was in the textbooks and send you away. They inspired,” she said.

Parry had studied business at SFU, and while she admits that it has wonderful professors, she felt removed from them, and disliked the large class sizes and lecture hall environment. “I was literally able to just sponge the information out of their brains and put what I wanted into mine & mdash; it was amazing.”

In the third year, Parry specialized in child and developmental psychology. Her ultimate goal is a PhD in clinical psychology, then research on foster children for the Ministry of Children and Families.

This is where her family life comes into play. In addition to being a full-time student, President of the Kwantlen Psychological Society and working for the ministry, Parry was also raising eight children at home.

She and her husband have five children together, as well as three full-time foster children and two respite children who live with the family occasionally.

How does she do it?

“I have the most amazing partner in the world, who pitches in and enables me to do what I do.” The younger kids have daycare, so she works her schedule around them. “We’re partners, so there are days when I cover him and there are days when he covers me. I try and schedule things so that most of my busy-ness is when the kids are in school and daycare.”

Parry has advice for student who are parents.

“We’re really good at taking care of everybody else, and as parents we’re not so good at taking care of ourselves, and I think that in the long run that can end up impacting the care that you’re able to give to your kids and your studies as well because you simply burn out.”

She said young parents should know their limits, and try to find a balance between their needs and their children’s needs.

Parry is modest about her own accomplishments.

“Yes, I know I have decent grades and I work very hard for them, but I don’t see what I do as anything special. What I do is just, what I do,” she said. “Of course I’m a mom — so? Whether you have one or you have eight really doesn’t make that big a difference. It’s just a bigger grocery bill.”


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