Bedford Public Schools Black Excellence Series: Dr. Termara Parker, Class of 2013

This is a portion of the weekly Superintendent’s Update by Cliff Chuang mailed to Bedford Public School community on Friday, March 1. Please find this week’s full issue of Superintendent’s Update and back issues at bedfordps.org.

Note: This is part of an ongoing series of pieces highlighting the stories of BPS alums, taking us into and out of Black History Month in February, highlighted on this BPS Black Excellence Site put together by Lisa Morrison, JGMS STEM teacher.

My name is Termara Parker and I was born in Boston and raised in Bedford. My Haitian mother and African-American father worked hard to instill a sense of responsibility in me from an early age. Being the oldest child, I was expected to help care for my three sisters, one of whom was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of nine. While taking care of an autistic person can be challenging, some cultural aspects of my ancestral lineage have made it particularly difficult for my family to form a scientific understanding of ASD.

The Haitian side of my family believes that autism can be “prayed away.” But I knew after participating in Harvard’s Health Professions and Exposure Program in 10th grade that there was so much more to learn about autism. I knew that it was essential to educate the public about autism as this will lead to better quality of life and medical care for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. My family’s intimate experience with autism spectrum disorder and the difficulties it imposes on my sister drove me to better understand autism. My strong personal motivation led me to pursue a career in science with a particular focus in brain research.

I graduated from Bedford High School with a 3.8 GPA and a drive to learn more about the brain. I chose to go to a historically Black college for my undergraduate education because I wanted to be around other students who looked like me. In Bedford, I felt alone as a Black person and did not have great confidence in myself. My decision to enroll at Howard University for my undergraduate education gave me a chance to fully understand how beneficial it is for minorities to interact with role models and peers of similar backgrounds.

I have four best friends who are Black doctors and Howard Alum. In May 2017, I graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with an honors degree in biology at Howard (GPA: 3.93). I then pursued a doctoral degree in neuroscience at Yale University.

At Yale, I studied how typically developed and autistic adults’ brains respond to real-life human interactions. I presented my research at several conferences, among them the Society for fNIRS, Society for Neuroscience, ABRCMS, SACNAS, and Black in Neuro. I have authored 13 scientific publications. I also won the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, the Neuroscience Scholar Program Fellowship, and the Annie Le Fellowship Award, and was named one of NIH’s 2022 Outstanding Neuroscience Scholars and the University of Buffalo’s Visiting Future Faculty Scholars. I am also committed to teaching and mentoring Black future scientists.

Know that your dreams are limitless!! Even though Bedford is small, the world outside of Bedford is so vast. Follow your passions. You are more than capable of going to college and you are capable of going to an Ivy League school. I can’t wait to see more Black scientists and doctors!

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BKo
March 7, 2024 9:43 pm

Your statement is inspiring. Congratulations in your hard work and many successes.

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