Embrace Who You Are

He had three different names before he was three months old.

He said, “The first name I ever had was Jeremy Jones… In the foster homes … I was Toby … Now my given name, Aaron Parchem…”

For Aaron Parchem, silver medalist at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, adapting to new environments was not an option, but rather a necessity.

It is a skill that not only helped Aaron Parchem during his early childhood years, but also during his time as a figure skater.

He said, “In skating… when I tell people that I was a figure skater for the first time, you get kind of a blank look like, ‘Is this guy messing with me?’ … I’ve come to expect it and that is what it is … I don’t look like a figure skater … I didn't even when I did it … I am a straight, black male in skating… When you’re unique, you’re going to elicit unique responses…”

Embracing his identity and surrounding himself with giving people were the only ways to break through some of the remarks Aaron had received along the way as a figure skater, a profession that has taught him life lessons that cannot be replaced.

Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I happy with who I have become?”


  • On Challenges: “People rise to the occasion when they’re challenged”

  • On Empowerment: Live in the service of others

  • On Support Groups: Find people who’ll support you no matter what

  • On Self: Develop a good understanding of who you are on the inside (feelings, values, and tools that you can use to accomplish your goals)