Many students in Mesa Community College’s Mortuary Science Program say their fellow students feel like family by the end of the program. But two of the grads, Tony and Tyler Parker, really are related.
The father and son pair, who have spent long hours studying and attending class together, are graduating with Associate in Applied Science degrees in Mortuary Science. Their plan is to work together in the industry and then open an independent funeral home. Tony and Tyler have a special interest in natural, or green, burials and cremation services, a new trend that ensures that the burial site remains as natural as possible in all respects.
“Everyone is going more natural,” Tony said. “There needs to be more alternatives for burial services.”
Tony, 50, always wanted to get a degree in Mortuary Science. He has been a fleet manager for Toyota for the past 15 years and decided now was the time to make the move. Tony researched schools and found that MCC had the only accredited program in Arizona and that it was rated very highly.
“My son, who is 22, was going to get a nursing degree until he heard I was going into the program and he decided to go into it with me,” Tony said. “It’s good to spend time with him. There’s been a lot of friendly competition between us.”
Tony said their experience has been incredible and the instructors are very knowledgeable.
“The professors have actually worked in the industry and done everything they’re teaching,” Tony said. “Their knowledge is not from a textbook. I’ve gone to other colleges and this is a quality education.”
Tony has also found it enriching to get to know his fellow classmates.
“They come from Nebraska, Washington, and all over,” Tony said. “One student drives up to Mesa from Tucson to come to class.”
Tony said that he has discovered that women are particularly interested in the career.
“Out of 29 students, we have only seven men,” Tony said. “Historically, women were the ones who prepared bodies until it became a money-making business and men took over. Now many women are coming back into the career.”
What advice would Tony give to students considering a career in Mortuary Science?
“MCC’s program is a very good program,” Tony said. “The director, Dr. Taggart, is just an amazing person and our experience has been incredible.”
MCC’s Mortuary Science Program is a member of the National Association of Colleges of Mortuary Science and offers an Associate in Applied Science degree in Mortuary Science. The degree includes studies in public health, business management, natural sciences, legal, ethical and regulatory concerns, and clinical requirements associated with the mortuary field. The curriculum combines coursework in mortuary science with a general education component.
The AAS degree from MCC is accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education. Completion of the program prepares the student to sit for the National Board examination and begin state internship requirements.
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