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Always Hungry for More

By Gardenia Zuniga-Haro

"Can I have extra meat on my burrito please," said Parra while we ordered food at Taqueria Cancun in downtown Berkeley.

Sitting down to a  table he took a deep sip of his horchata and went on to mention how excited he was for summer to start. He shared how he might go to Europe to play for a major soccer team but before I jump into the future, let me reverse with a bit of history of Victor Emilio Parra.

You may have seen him on on television participating in an ESPN reality show, perhaps playing soccer across the world or maybe even checked him out in one of his Instagram posts BUT do you know the real Victor?

I didn't really know him either so if you said NO, then don't feel bad. I will make sure that after this article you get to know who he is besides what you have seen so far.

Victor came from very humble beginnings. He grew up in the slums of Medellin, Colombia and just like any little boy, he picked up a soccer ball.

"I did not like playing soccer as a little kid but my uncle made me," said Parra as he laughed reminiscing  of his early soccer days. "I never met my father so my uncle pushed me to play soccer while my mother worked hard to raise me and my two older sisters."

His mother worked hard to bring them to Rhode Island where Victor began to pursue his American dream. He graduated with honors from Central Falls High school and was granted a full ride scholarship to attend Monroe College in New York City.

"I literally went to N.Y.C. with a soccer bag, no suit case, no boxes," Parra said while sharing how he started from the bottom and within two years after obtaining his Associate's Degree he came back with one suitcase to San Jose State University (SJSU).

"I was shocked to know Coach Simon flew all the way from SJSU to watch me play and offered me a full ride. My mother was right. I am beyond blessed," Parra said with a huge smile before taking a sip of my soda.

Before moving to the West coast Victor had a taste of for California living. He had been cast on a reality television show for ESPN called “Every Street United.”Victor had proven to be a great soccer player and learned from a few soccer legends such as Thierry Henry which helped him develop into the athlete that he is today.

OK, now we can fast forward to his days in California. Victor went to play in Portugal for a division one soccer team however when he came back.... he had the biggest shocker of his life- he was a Valedictorian for his graduation.

Victor was waiting for his luggage since he had barely arrived from Portugal and was heading within the next few days to his graduation at SJSU.

I couldn't believe the voicemail I heard from Dr. Tsu-Hong Yen who is the Chairperson of the  Department of Hospitality Management.

While he laughed explaining to me that he thought they probably confused Victors when he heard the voicemail's, he shared with me a very deep thought....

"This was the biggest shocker for me. I came from the bottom not having anything and with all these opportunities, being a Valedictorian was the ultimate prize for me and my mother."

Graduation came and his mother wasn't present due to medical reasons but Parra had his soccer family there cheering him up while he spoke in front of his class. "Being on stage was such an honor and I kept thinking my mother was right, I am blessed."

Now we can fast forward to present day and Victor is still playing soccer and training with major super stars such a Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez and much more who have inspired Parra to keep going with his soccer career.

"I look up to Luis Suarez. We are both forwards and the passion he brings to the game inspires me to be like him one day."

As he devoured his final bites of his burrito, I noticed the kitchen staff sat next to us to eavesdrop once they heard he was a soccer player. I could tell they were excited to hear his story just like I am sharing it to the world.

I thought I knew of Victor before hearing his journey but I can say I know him more now, just like you do too after reading his story.

Parra is looking into attending a Top 3 Grad school online program such as Harvard to continue his education while he kicks goals in a soccer field in Europe. His ultimate goal is to be a Professional Soccer player, continue to make his mother proud and one day go back to Medellin where he first kicked a soccer ball and helped children with soccer camps and provide a better future for them.

In the next few weeks, Parra will hopefully visit his family before heading to Europe.

-And with a final note, Parra said, "I am always Hungry for more." while he finished his burrito and talked about his soccer career.

"I am always Thankful for everything that I have"- Victor E. Parra

"I encourage myself every day to be the best I can be"- Victor E.Parra
Photos by Gardenia Zuniga-Haro

Check out Victor Parra's soccer highly video

You can also Follow Victors journey on his Social Media Accounts
Twitter: @VicParraYaDig
Instagram: @victorparrayadig


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