Adam Parkinson ‘17
“To prospective students searching for a university: Get to know the people in your program and the faculty. Ask yourself, where am I going to be able to grow the most as a person? Then you’ll know.”
Adam graduated valedictorian from Memorial High School in West New York. He was active in school clubs and held leadership roles in high school. He was accepted to every one of the 12 colleges to which he applied. He chose Saint Peter’s because, he says, “It felt like home when I stepped on the campus,” and “the place has a family friendly vibe.” He knew it would be his top choice immediately.
Remarkable among his ever growing list of achievements is that Adam is not just a member of the West New York Board of Education. At 20 years old, he is one of the youngest school board presidents that the Board has ever had. While participating in National Society of Leadership and Success (a symposium for student leadership development) he decided he’d run for an open seat on the BOE. How did he get the position as a young undergrad? By his own account, he was up against experienced business owners and people with advanced degrees. He simply told the Board members, “None of you know what it’s like to be a student in West New York.” That did the trick. “Being on the BOE and being a public servant is a huge honor,” says Adam, “my family is from Cuba. Some people may take our democracy for granted, but I don’t.”
At Saint Peter’s, Adam is Vice President of the Education International Honor Society. He helped grow the club from four members to over 60. How did he do it? By not doing what’s always been done. He branched out to students beyond Education Majors and went far beyond two required service learning projects. One of the more popular projects, a book drive, brought in over 300 books that were donated to the Western Public Library.
Elementary Education is Adam’s major and he is currently a student intern at Weehawken High School teaching math. He will be graduating with Bachelors in Elementary Education with a Certificate in Middle School Social Science, and Certificate for Middle School Math, in May. By all accounts, his students enjoy him as much as he does teaching them.
He is intrigued by the thought of a career in politics, but education runs his family – his mother and sister are both teachers. His mantra, above all else, is that he wants to serve his community in some way. It is a very Jesuit approach. “I want to pursue teaching as a career, that’s why I came to Saint Peter’s, but (on the BOE) I get to contribute to my two passions – politics and education.” He’s looking into the M.A. in Ed Leadership as a next step in his educational journey.
When asked what makes Saint Peter’s special, he is quick to reply, “There is not one person in the education department that does not have an impact on you. They are always there for you. They know you, they know your story.” He is especially grateful to Dr. Safford, who according to Adam, “is really tough but fair. She teaches students how to be educators for students in the 21st century. She readies you to be a teacher,” says Adam.
His advice to prospective students searching for a university? “Don’t just look at who gives you the most money or how much coursework there is. Get to know the people in your program and the faculty. Ask yourself, where am I going to be able to grow the most as a person? Then you’ll know.”
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