Graye Parnell is Wanderlust Goals

Meet Graye Parnell, a sophomore from Orcas Island, a small island off the coast of Washington state. Graye is an International Business and Finance double major with minors in computer science and real estate, and this couldn’t be more fitting! Sitting down with Graye to talk about all of his achievements absolutely blew me away.

Besides starting his own premium bottled beverage company in high school (which he later sold after graduation), Graye has accomplished a lot. While in the Philippines, Graye and a friend stumbled upon a new extremely rural village, Tanglagan, and decided to do a few self-initiated projects including provide medical and dental work. He saw the need for health care and education, and upon his return to America, he started up the non profit 501(c)(3), NGO Adventist Mountain Missions.  The mission is to reach people in the most remote, mountainous regions around the world and provide health care, community development, and education. In the future he hopes to continue the expansion of Adventist Mountain Missions, and even build an airstrip in remote Tanglagan. Current operations are in the Philippines, Lesotho, and Cambodia.

Last summer alone Graye visited 22 countries around the world with Adventist Mountain Missions. He does not know the exact future of the NGO but hopes to continue to watch it grow and thrive. He sees AMM as a lifetime investment. As we discussed humanitarian work, Graye also informed me that he plans to return to Tanglagan in March with 15 students. He took six DU students this past December. Graye adds, “I have been really blessed and fortunate to have been able to have the experiences I have had. I am a firm believer in that everything you do to make someone else’s life better makes your life more meaningful.”

If you thought that was all Graye was up to, think again! Graye is involved in much more, both on and off campus. On campus, Graye is a member of Delta Sigma Pi - America’s foremost business fraternity and also a member of Pi Kappa Phi! In addition to class and fraternity fun, Graye enjoys playing intermural sports.

Outside of school, Graye loves flying. Oh yeah, he’s a pilot too! Graye is a member the Civil Air Patrol, a branch of the Air Force as a second lieutenant. Graye’s dream as a pilot is to fly around the world solo. However, for now he enjoys flying out of Centennial airport, where he keeps his small aircraft. Graye says that the ability to fly gives him endless possibilities. He says becoming a pilot was necessary for his survival. At first I thought he was joking, but he explained to me that being from a small island made it necessary to learn. “The decision to become a pilot in my community was partially inspired by my friend who became paralyzed and almost lost his life due to the delay to get him off of our island! I was also able to go to meetings and attend events on the mainland with relative ease. My best memory is flying to the mainland to eat happy hour sushi after school with some friends.” Being a pilot has enabled Graye to see the world through a unique lens. 

Graye is a huge believer of innovation. Graye has worked with friends and partners to create two different products: one on the market, and the other coming soon. Paxis, a backpack that allows you immediately access the critical things in your pack without ever having to take it off, has a product on the market including international distribution. He told me all about a few of the outdoor conventions he’s attended to help get his product up and running!

Graye also worked with Seth Hill to invent Swayy Hammocks. SWAYY™ isn’t just your average ordinary hammock company. “When it comes to the status quo, we don’t meet the expectation, we raise it. Innovation, vigorous ambition, and bright ideas are what powers us.” This is a waterproof, insulated, wind resistant hammock and the newest in hammock technology. Graye is ecstatic for the product launch coming May 15th! Check out the link - you just might need one to explore our Rocky Mountains this spring!

Too good to be true right? Have no fear, Graye is really just like the rest of us. Incredibly down to earth and fun-loving. Graye likes to relax around campus or go hit at the golf driving range when he can. Graye also came to colorful Colorado to ski in his free time. Here, Graye’s favorite resort is Cooper in Leadville Colorado, but overall, his favorite place to ski is in Whitefish, Montana. Graye has a life goal to ski on all seven continents. So far, he’s tackled five including Africa! With all that Graye has seen done and visited, I found it only suiting to discover that his favorite place in the world is Pohnpei, Micronesia. A little island in a chain of six: small, remote, and his heaven on Earth. Keep living it up Graye!