Faces of CNM: Charnia Parrish

To celebrate Black History Month, we’re speaking with African American leaders around CNM campuses
February 06, 2020

When you walk into Charnia Parrish’s office a couple things stand out. First, there are the snacks on her desk and then the Costco-size piles of snacks busting out of the filing cabinet behind her. And second, there are all the musical instruments next to her chair. Both these clues are telling.

Charnia, who’s an Assistant Director of CNM’s Connect Services, is known for her commitment to students and CNM’s core value of Be Caring. In her time at CNM, she’s served as everything from an academic advisor to a tax accounting instructor in BIT. She likes to help students at every turn and the snacks are no different. She came across a hungry student early in her time at CNM and vowed to never be snack-less again.

“I’m definitely a feeder,” she laughs. “My sister and I have a saying: ‘If you leave our house hungry, it’s your own fault.’”

Nixing hunger, she says, is just one more way she can help students fulfill their potential. Over her time at CNM, she’s seen how the small things—tutoring, advisement, a friendly instructor—can help a student overcome their fears. She’s also seen how a full degree or certificate from CNM can help them blaze an entirely new path.

“I love being able to immediately help someone with food, but I also love being able to help them change their lives and fulfill their potential,” she says.

As an African American, Charnia wants to set an example for others and live up to CNM’s value of Be Inspiring. When she attended CNM back when it was TVI, there were not many people who looked like her. Today, she wants students of color across all of CNM’s campuses to know they’re welcome.

“I want students, staff, and faculty to know that we’re not homogeneous. The only homogeneous quality of this college is our commitment to students,” she says.

This full-time commitment to helping others is also present in her commitment to music, which explains all of the instruments in her office. Charnia grew up in a musical family and nowadays sings and plays several instruments including the guitar and the ukulele. She’s part of a church band that performs at retirement and healthcare facilities across the city, and she’s also happy to strum a tune in her office for anyone to enjoy.

“You might say I have an addiction to music and instruments. In addition to the guitar and ukulele here at the office, I have 26 more instruments at home,” she says. “I find a lot of joy in music and it’s easy to use music to help spread that joy.”

Charnia Parrish