Advocating for Equity, Diversity and Dignity | Steven D. Parker ’17

Steven D. Parker ’17 graduated from the College of Education at UCCS with a Master of Arts in Leadership. Since earning his master’s degree, he has worked to support underrepresented and minoritized students, faculty and staff in higher education institutions across the country.

While earning his master’s at UCCS, Steven was able to identify his intersecting cultural, social and leadership identities – and cultivate a deep interest in the teachings of the late Daryl Miller, a lecturer at UCCS, which Steven now uses to advocate for and support educational development.

“Daryl was an integral part of my journey at UCCS,” Steven said. “He advocated for human dignity, mental health and human rights. From my time spent with Daryl, I was able to conceptualize my place in the discipline of higher education.”

“He helped me understand that there is a place for me to support students, faculty, and staff through combining biopsychosocial practices within higher education leadership.”

We caught up with Steven to hear what it’s like to serve as the assistant dean of the Office of Intercultural Education at Bates College – where he works on topics including anti-racism, advocacy and social justice – and what it means to be an unapologetic advocate for equity.

Q&A: Steven D. Parker ‘17

After graduating from UCCS, I was even more inspired to work in the functional area of multicultural affairs within post-secondary education. I’ve worked at the University of George in their multicultural affairs division, I’ve worked in the SUNY system advocating for equity and inclusion, and I’ve worked in Iowa educating and supporting the college community through the lens of equity, inclusion, advocacy and anti-racism.

Through the guidance, education and training from not only my work experience, but my UCCS education, I have continued to make my mark on post-secondary education.

“The best part of my work is that I can be a change-agent while educating and developing change-agents. Unapologetically, I can engage in proactive work that focuses on diversity, equity, inclusivity, anti-racism, advocacy, access and education/social justice.

A typical day in my role really involves student support services. I support students dealing with academic, societal, familial and psychological matters. I also conduct intercultural education opportunities focused on diversity, inclusivity, anti-racism, access and social/educational justice. I often take part in an array of meetings that influence campus life for students, faculty and staff as well.

I was able to achieve post-secondary education degrees as a first-generation, Black-identifying person!

My lowest career moment was when I realized that Black and first-generation students were entering post-secondary education dealing with multigenerational trauma. I noticed that support for them was extremely limited inside and outside of the institution. To overcome this low point, I decided to further my education with doctoral studies. I now focus on research that influences and studies these populations in post-secondary education settings.

My experience at UCCS provided me with practical, and scholarly skills to advance in the field of post-secondary education leadership.

I advise all pre-professionals, and new professionals to fully embrace the opportunities that are presented along your career journey. Take on the challenges so long as you have the supports in place. And remember, love on everyone appropriately, as this is the key to being the best professional that you can be.

I embrace physical and self-care activities when I am not working.

I enjoy spending Saturday mornings eating a big bowl of cereal while watching cartoons.

In regards to my career, I hope to be a senior level administrator in post-secondary education, as well as a faculty member teaching multicultural and mental health practices to educational leaders.

Give yourself grace, and embrace time because it is the most expensive thing that you own.

Want to be like Steven? You can! Find out more information on the College of Education at UCCS.

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UCCS’ Success Stories series features recent alumni who are making an impact on their communities and the world around them. Having graduated in the last 15 years, they are busy making strides in the directions of their dreams. We can’t wait to see how their stories unfold.

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