• Jonny Parker

3 Things I Learned From Being a Broke Collegiate Student-Athlete



I used to think it was a running joke or cool trend when I was younger. All college students are “broke.” You even hear freshman college students bragging about it when they come back home. The thrill of shacking up with 2–3 buddies in a small dorm room or apartment.


Having to live off Top Ramen and burying any thought of how much school debt you would be in after you graduate, while society falsely claims that students struggling is just a part of the journey and college experience.


Some would say they dreaded their lives in college. Some had the time of their lives. While me on the other hand, my college experience forever changed my life.


1. Gratitude Turns What We Have Into Enough


There were days, weeks, and a couple of times, even months where I went with $0 in my bank account. No food in the fridge. Just my gallon of water, a jar of peanut butter, and a pack of Oreos I was able to take home from a class project. There were many times where I felt sorry for myself, even cried myself to sleep some nights. But as I would ride with my teammate to school and see the homeless and not so fortunate along the side of the road, it put things in perspective.


I have a gallon of water. While some people don’t.

I have a jar of peanut butter. While some people don’t.

I have a packet of Oreos. While some people don’t.

The list would go on. I had no right to complain, I was blessed, and I had something. That is when my prayers and thoughts changed.


“Thank you, Lord, for what I have, what I don’t have, and what I have had.”

Gratitude shaped my life, brought upon greater happiness. Relishing my current and past experiences and appreciating adversity.


2. The Power of Writing


A pen and a pad of paper can be a man or woman’s best friends in tough times. They don’t question you. They don’t judge you. They are only there for you, helping you through the difficult times.


When I realized that I was too scared to discuss my feelings with others, to speak about the things I was going through, I wrote about it.


When I started feeling bad for myself — I wrote.

When I had a bad basketball game — I wrote.

When my car was repossessed due to me having no money to afford it — I wrote.

When I had to redshirt a season because I had a 1.7 GPA — I wrote

.

Pen and Paper have been there for me in my toughest times, and in my most joyful times too.


“Goals that are not written down are just wishes.”

I took this advice and I ran with it. I began to write my goals down. After writing, I would believe it. After believing it, I would get to work on it. I noticed a tremendous change in my life and started to understand the power of writing. It was the start of me accomplishing those dreams and goals that I had.


I wrote down that I would win all-conference and defensive player of the year awards. At the end of the season, I did just that. It wasn’t only the writing that made this happen, but it was programming the start that I needed to make it happen.


3. I realized I could inspire and motivate through writing.


Along with writing in my journal and writing my goals down, I decided that I wanted to start a blog. I knew there were others out there just like me. Struggling college students and athletes that were facing challenges and needed to be inspired and motivated to lift their heads up and take action on their lives.


That is when I found Medium. This platform has given me a voice that can be heard not only within my connections but the whole world, and for that, I am grateful. As I started sharing my writings with my family, friends, and teammates. I received so much positive feedback that it blew me away. They loved my short stories about myself, spoken words, and inspirational writes that I came up with.


Now that I know I have the ability to inspire others through my experiences in my life, I have a duty to continue that. When we put our gifts into action consistently, great things will blossom from the labor.


3. Hard Work Will Always Triumph Over Talent


Writing my goals down was not enough. We don’t accomplish goals and dreams just by writing them down. That’s only the first step. The second step is to have unwavering faith and belief that you will achieve what you write down. Lastly, work insanely hard to make it happen.


That was the only way I earned those two awards to end my college season. It was the only way I turned my 1.7 GPA into a 3.3, and receiving the honor of being asked to give the commencement speech at my graduation. Hard work has been the only reason I just graduated with a Masters’s degree. Being the only and first person in my family to hold both degrees.


I say those things not to receive a pat on my back or humblebrag. I know there are thousands of struggling students, businessmen, and women in all industries that may feel like they want to quit or give up. I just want to tell you all things are possible when the mind is set to purpose.


Talent is overrated, hard work is what separates those who do and those who don’t.

I encourage you to continue striving for your goals and dreams because they are in arms reach. Anyone who tells you they are not just doesn’t have the guts and work ethic to chase theirs. There is no better time than now.

The Wrap Up

  1. Be grateful for what you have, don’t have, and what you have had.

  2. There is power in writing, befriend the pen and paper. They may just change your life.

  3. Work insanely hard, and the results will come.

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