A Kansas City senior is the latest to be awarded a series of prestigious scholarships due to his outstanding performance in school.
17-year-old Derrick Parker Jr. will be leaving Lincoln College Preparatory Academy with three big offers from colleges and foundations.
He is one of the 150 selected from 100,000 applicants to win a $20,000 Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship. He’s one of five seniors in the country to win the $10,000 Spirit of Anne Frank Scholarship. And he’s the only Missourian this year to win the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which pays the total cost of attending the college of his choice through graduate school.
Parker is set to study political science at Morehouse College in Atlanta, MLK’s alma mater, with a nearly $40,000-a-year price tag.
“My dream was to go to college and have my parents not pay a dime for my education,” said Parker, who grew up in a neighborhood near 32nd Street and Wayne Avenue, where he lives with his mother. He has two grown sisters and a younger brother, who lives with their dad in Raytown. His mom’s a machinist, and his dad is a barber.
“I’m lucky. I’ve always had a lot of support from my family, my parents and my grandparents,” Parker said. “A lot of kids don’t have that.”
It wasn’t easy for Parker to get the the level of success he’s achieved thusfar. The teen says he’s watched many of his peers go down the wrong path, ultimately ending up in prison or dead.
Parker dedicated his entire summer last year to applying for scholarships. Much of his senior year was dedicated to writing college essays and applying for as many scholarships as possible.
He estimates he’s won about $300,000 in scholarship awards.