Commit to Outreach

Author: Cal Powell

Growing up in tiny Jackson, Ga., Jessica Parks was fascinated with money.

Some of her favorite memories involve going grocery shopping with her parents and rolling coins from her dad’s coin jar.

“I noticed many people in my hometown talk about struggling to pay their bills, so I sprang into action,” she said. “I read many personal finance books hoping to help them.”

Parks seemed destined for a career in finance, and indeed received her undergraduate degree in the field from the Terry College of Business in 2015.

She then received her master’s degree from the FACS department of financial planning, housing and consumer economics, during which time she interned at a microfinance institution in Vietnam and participated in various outreach projects under the direction of faculty member Joan Koonce.

“These experiences have allowed me to see the value in both outreach and university instruction,” Parks said.

She’s now a Ph.D. student in FACS and plans to pursue a faculty position that combines her love of outreach with her passion for teaching.

Parks is also the grateful recipient of numerous scholarships and travel awards, including the Don Bower Extension Experience Fund that assisted her work with Koonce, the Virginia Wilbanks Kilgore Scholarship and an award from Merrill Lynch that helped pay for her graduate studies.

Parks also has had the opportunity to study abroad three times with the help of several scholarships.

“To all my donors, your giving says to me that you see potential in me,” Parks said. “Donors, in general, express through their gift giving that a student’s education is worth way more than any other high-yielding investment. In addition, gift giving promotes community and collaboration, communicating to the student that they are not in the world to fend for themselves.”