Student-athlete Anna Parker loves the atmosphere of Eastern New Mexico University.
"Being raised in Aztec, New Mexico, I was used to and comfortable with the small-town atmosphere, so Eastern was just the place for me," she said.
Anna was born in Florida, then lived in Texas, before her family moved to Aztec.
She was homeschooled from second grade on. Though homeschooled, she still participated in sports at Aztec High School until she graduated in 2015. Her parents moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, the summer before she began studying at Eastern.
Her father is a pastor and her mom stays at home. The athlete has three siblings: two older and one younger. Her younger sister just finished her first year at ENMU.
"My childhood revolved a lot around family, church and music," Anna said.
Her upbringing and faith has greatly influenced her life path.
"I believe that my purpose is to know God and make Him known," she said. "It is because of my relationship with Christ that I am able to be the person that I am and show Christ's love to those around me no matter where they are at in their lives. My faith in God has given me hope and joy that I couldn't have found on my own."
The junior "loves music" and leads worship at ENMU's Baptist Student Union. She also runs cross country and track and is well known for hanging her hammock around the ENMU campus to study in. She also tutors math students who need it.
She has been on the Dean's List every semester. The psychology minor was also selected as Academic Athlete of the Year for the fall 2016 ENMU women's cross country team.
Anna takes courses both on-campus and online to fill her schedule and add flexibility "for daily track practices and weekend track meets."
She hopes to become a mental health counselor and "help people get the most out of their lives." She wants people to know that they are not defined by their mental state.
"I think my degree will give me some really practical skills that will be very helpful in my career," she said. "I think this education will give me a better understanding of people which will let me offer the best treatment that I can."
She also wants to travel the world, experiencing the lovely outdoors and differing places. She enjoys interacting with nature and the environment surrounding her.
Anna's favorite part of the university's campus is the people.
"The people here are what make it for me," she said. "Everyone on campus wants you to succeed so they are willing to work with you to help you get the most you can out of your time at the school."
She recommends ENMU to anyone because it "has a lot to offer." There are so many ways to get involved on campus with various organizations and groups.
Her advice to new incoming students is to "prioritize and decide what you need in your life and what you can let go.
"For me, relationships, grades and running are my priorities. I chose to focus on those and not overload myself with cool things that compromise my time and energy," she said.