Sergio Arvizu-Rivera ’23
If students walk into the Innovation Commons, they will likely see a 6-foot-3-inch giant hovering over an iMac. He may appear intimidating initially, but then they realize it’s Aidan Parris ’23.
Parris is involved in robotics, CubeSAT and Big Brothers. These clubs require a sense of problem-solving, self-accountability, and personal drive to be successful, Parris said.
While both robotics and CubeSAT have had technical challenges to overcome, Parris encountered his biggest challenge at the end of his sophomore year: thyroid cancer.
“It was kind of out of the blue. I got diagnosed during my Brophy physical during summer camp or summer school, and then I had surgery at the end of summer,” said Parris.
Parris’s experience with thyroid cancer did not overcome him; he used it as a learning experience.
“I talked not about my experience with cancer but about people asking about the scar and how I would always kind of fixate on what the perfect response to that question was. And over time, I kind of learned that instead of fixating on finding the perfect answer, it’s a lot better to just kind of accept that your answer will be imperfect. A big thing I worked through was not having paralysis of analysis, because I’d say I kind of do that sometimes still, and I used to be very nervous and overthink things. “My experience kind of led me to not get stuck as much,” said Parris.
Due to the various treatments that Parris endured, he missed many class periods, leading him to develop feelings of isolation.
“I also had to miss a few weeks of school during the year because, after surgery, you have to get radiation treatment to make sure there’s no more cancer left. I missed like two weeks of school. And that was kind of difficult because I was very isolated because you can’t really be close to anyone physically. So I was basically in my room for two weeks straight, which kind of sucked,” said Parris.
Parris says he owes it to his friends, who helped him through his isolation by texting him and keeping him laughing.
Although he missed two weeks of school, he kept up with “almost” all the homework. By the end of his first week back, he was all caught up.
His work ethic shined through the following year, as Parris was the driver for the Brophy Robotics team in his Junior year. The role of the driver is to control the robot to complete tasks and earn points. With multiple things breaking throughout the match, it seemed almost impossible to come back. Parris, however, persevered through the challenges of the competition.
“I felt like something would break in every single match, especially during the first robotics competition, because it was our first ever. So we didn’t have some of the tools we needed. We didn’t have the backup materials. So we’re scrambling, trying to find materials from other teams. Everything’s breaking, but it’s a lot of fun because you’re always doing something,” Parris said.
“I think because it’s kind of the culture in the robotics league of just having fun and kind of taking difficult situations in stride. So I don’t know, I never felt super stressed, and it was more like, there was a lot of panic, but it wasn’t like stress,” said Parris.
The ability to keep calm helped the entire team, as the rookie Broncos team made it all the way to the finals, placing second after being the last-seed team.
“We ended the first day and were literally dead last. We had the lowest average ranking points per match in the whole competition. And then we went to the finals, which was crazy,” said Parris.
Due to his large size, Parris is afraid of appearing intimidating.
His friend Tyler Abraham-Lodmell ’23 acknowledges how kind Parris is.
“Aidan is an awesome dude. I’ve been carpooling with him since the start of junior year, and you’ll never meet a kinder or more passionate person. If he isn’t talking about one of the clubs he is leading, or a new onshape model he’s working on, he’s asking you what’s going on in your life. Not only is he a great listener, he is someone that will truly go out of his way for you. You couldn’t ask for a better friend,” Abraham-Lodmell said.
Parris also participates in the Brophy Big Brothers program, acting as a mentor for incoming freshmen.
“Just receiving, like, out-of-pocket questions was pretty fun and interesting. Just keeping up with my little brothers and seeing them get into friend groups and kind of become ‘Brophy guys’ has been pretty cool,” Parris said.
Parris is involved in many activities, and with only 24 hours in a day, he must make sacrifices.
“I think if you really enjoy something, you can find time for it,” she said.
“So sometimes that means sacrificing sleep and staying up later; sometimes that means I can’t hang out with my friends because I’ve got to do something else. It can also sometimes mean not being able to spend time with your family, which is probably the worst thing that it causes. But if you really enjoy something, I think I kind of just find time to do it,” Parris said.
Parris has been accepted to some of the top universities across the country and is still deciding between Duke, Carnegie Mellon and USC. He plans on majoring in Electrical Engineering, just as his father did.
“It’s kind of something we bonded over, so it kind of just got me interested in electrical engineering, so I kind of developed an interest that way. And then, I think last year and kind of during the pandemic, I started learning more about it by reading stuff on Wikipedia, watching YouTube videos, that kind of stuff,” Parris said.