Jerell Parker '04
“I remember the family environment throughout the campus—it made the student experience much better.” Anchor Award recipient Jerell Parker '04 has carried what he learned at UHart throughout his life, in his career, and in giving back to his community.
Describe some of your most memorable accomplishments in your professional career. What are you most proud of?
My most memorable professional accomplishment to date has been the promotion to senior vice president at CBS Media Ventures and being the head of the Central region based out of Chicago. As a Black man born and raised on the South Side of Chicago to now live on the South Side of Chicago with a title that most kids wouldn’t know even exists—and to have the ability to impact change on the same streets I grew up in—that’s by far my best and proudest overall accomplishment to date.
You started an endowment fund with your wife to support Black students at Chicago State University. What motivated you to give back to your community in this way and what successes/challenges have you had?
A lot of my motivations for giving back this way came from forward thinking. I thought if I wanted to build a better community, I would need some help. I figured the more young people I help in achieving their goal of college graduation, the better the overall community would be. It would also naturally enlist the help of those young people as they build loyalty to the community that helped them.
How did you end up at UHart? What elements of your student experience still resonate with you today?
Basketball led me to UHart. After playing my first two years of college in my hometown at Loyola of Chicago, I was ready to experience a different part of the country, and I had previous ties to coach Larry Harrison. He had recruited me to DePaul while coaching there. I remember the family environment throughout the campus—it made the student experience much better because, regardless of the challenge, you knew there was someone in the family going through the same experience. I’ve carried that environment with me and try to implement it into my management style today.
Being a student-athlete totally prepared me for my professional career. I’ve been in sales and distribution for 16 years now. As a student-athlete, I learned to multitask at a high level, which has come in handy on many occasions. I learned to prioritize my day to be as efficient as possible, and it also taught me that I could hold more than one title. My ability to perform on the court and in the classroom is what allows me to perform in my career as well as to fulfill my social responsibilities.
Basketball will always be a huge part of my life. It has given me experiences that most people don’t get, especially those with limited resources. The game has taken me around the world, paid for college, and introduced and created relationships that will last a lifetime. I now coach because I want to help create some of those same opportunities, and hopefully even great ones, for as many young people as possible.
What advice do you have for UHart students following in your footsteps?
My advice would be to make as many authentic connections as possible in the industries they want to see themselves. Learn the industry and prepare for opportunities as they arise.
You’re a family man—is there anything you’d like to share about your family?
I live in the Chicago area with my wife, Tiffany, along with our three children: Jerell Jr., Leiani, and Jadon, who all know and love “Daddy’s famous BBQ.” It usually gets me out of trouble.
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