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Jonathan D. Parks, 30, was born in Detroit, Michigan. At the tender age of 18 months, Parks suffered a severe stroke, leaving him paralyzed on his left side. Doctors believed he would not live the life of a normal child. It was decided early that Parks would never walk or communicate clearly.
Instead of using his shortcomings as a crutch, Parks developed a competitive edge. He went on to obtain three varsity sports letters in basketball, track and cross country while attending Communication & Media Arts High School in Detroit.
Parks received his Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Oakland University in 2005 – again defying the belief that his communication skills would suffer. He also holds a masters degree in Public Administration from Oakland University.
During his undergraduate years, Parks was inevitably one of the top student leaders of his time. His leadership roles included: Student Congress President, Association of Black Students Executive Board, Residence Hall Council, AmeriCorps Mentor and King-Chavez-Parks (KCP) Program Mentor.
From a graduating class of more than 2,000 students, Parks was selected for the Human Relations Award. This honor is presented to one graduating senior for his/her involvement in improving race relations on campus.
Staying true to his mission of empowering young minds, Parks became the Program Coordinator for GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) in the department of Pre-College Programs at Oakland University. In this position, his main task is to provide opportunities for underrepresented students to discover firsthand the potential of a college education.