Kevin Parker, ’96, entered Whitworth as a student of distinction: “I had one of the lowest GPAs ever admitted to Whitworth – possibly the lowest,” Parker said. “I came in as a freshman on academic probation.”
Parker dug in and made the most of the opportunities Whitworth offered. By his senior year, he was a student assistant in the president’s office and the development office. After graduating with a degree in political science, Parker became a Young Life area director in Littleton, Colo., a position he held for five years; at the time, he was one of the youngest Young Life area directors in the country.
In 1999, when the Columbine High School shootings occurred, Parker was in the cafeteria eating lunch with a student as shots rang out. He crouched with students behind tables and prayed. After surviving that day, his initial reaction was to ask his former Whitworth mentor, then-Dean of Spiritual Life Terry McGonigal, to help him through the experience. In the years that followed, Parker shared a message of hope that springs from tragedy as he spoke at colleges and universities and Young Life fund-raising events in the U.S. and New Zealand.
Parker earned an MBA from George Fox University, in Newberg, Ore., and studied leadership at Harvard. An entrepreneur, he owns a chain of Dutch Brothers coffee stands in Spokane. In 2008 he was approached to run as a state representative for Spokane’s 6th Legislative District, and he won; he has held a leadership position in the House Republican Caucus since he was a freshman. He also teaches in Whitworth’s MBA program and is an instructor at Fairchild Air Force Base.
In addition to meeting his wife, Kerry (Hultz), ’95, at Whitworth, Parker credits the university with providing a strong base for his career. “Whitworth and my relationships with various professors laid a foundation that has been instrumental in my studies at the graduate level, as well as in my experiences in the private, nonprofit and political sectors,” he said.