As far as Tracey Parrish is concerned, there’s no room for excuses. Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Parrish said her parents, and a close-knit community where almost everyone was called “auntie” and “uncle,” showed her the meaning of hard work.
“I learned really early if I wanted something, I needed to go get it,” Parrish said. “I’m not a victim of circumstances. I’m not a victim of the past.”
She wouldn’t be a victim of Alaska’s weather either. She arrived in Anchorage for the first time to visit her father in the middle of a snowstorm.
“All we saw was snow, snow, snow, and it really did look like the cartoons that we used to watch at Christmas, and I was just in awe. I couldn’t speak.”
It may have been one of the few times Parrish was speechless. Living in Alaska since 1980, her bold and confident personality has helped her build a business as an insurance agent and agency owner. Building that business connected her to another beloved community that she takes pride in working with. With a smile, Parrish said she feels like she’s insured just about every Black person in the state, but in reality her work is more about helping people in general.
“I feel an obligation to do right by people. And to do right by myself and by my children and by my parents,” Parrish said. “I happen to be Black so that works, and it helps, and it shows that people of all colors can do all things.”
But ultimately, race isn’t something Parrish dwells on. It’s more important to make a way for yourself regardless of your circumstance, she says.
On tough days, she encourages her staff to write and read affirmations. On really tough days, they’ll say those affirmations together. And then it’s right back to work. Because for Parrish, shortcuts aren’t an option.
“I follow the rules. I check my boxes, I dot my I’s and cross my T’s,” Parrish said. “What do I need to do to be what I want to be?” she asks herself.
Because more than anything, Parrish tries to show that with hard work, focus, creativity, and an open mind, anyone can succeed.