You could say Steven Parker is excited for the fall semester. “I am just jumping out of my seat waiting for the students to get here,” he said. “I want everyone back on campus so I can start building connections and community. I need them here so we can get going.”
Parker, the new assistant director of intercultural programs and success initiatives, has been on campus for one month and is counting down the days to August.
Originally from Chicago, Ill., Parker earned his undergraduate degree at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn. As a first-generation scholar, he got involved in residence life while studying social work, working full-time and competing as a student-athlete.
“I saw the deficit in secondary and post-secondary educational settings regarding supports for identified minorities specifically regarding mental health issues,” he said. “I intentionally chose my areas of study in hopes of one day providing the supportive components to students of all levels”
Parker studied leadership in higher education at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs where he earned his Master’s degree while simultaneously working at Colorado State University – Pueblo as a graduate assistant in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
While still seeing the deficits in mental health needs of minorities in these areas, he pursued a doctorate in counseling psychology at the University of Georgia for one year before shifting back into higher education at SUNY- Alfred State College, where he worked as residence director among other duties. When the opportunity at Loras arose, he jumped at the chance to get closer to home.
“To come here and be back in the Midwest after living and working all around the U.S., I am in love and feel like I am right at home.”
In his new position, Parker will be focused on first-generation students. He has developed a curriculum to support the first-generation scholars program and will implement and start assessment of it this coming year. He will also be serving as the advisor to the Black Student Union, which he also did while in Colorado. He felt an instant connection to Loras upon his arrival.
“When I came to Loras and sat down in front of the people here for my interview, I felt like I was right at home,” he said. “I have never felt so welcomed by a higher education institution. I like to say I was loved on appropriately by the students, staff, and faculty during my interview process. They were very authentic from top to bottom and I knew that this was going to be a great fit. I have never been so excited to hold a position in my life!”