Feb 25, 2021 - 2:30pm

Next-Gen Scholars | Where are They Now? 


VIRGIL PARKER
 

Hometown: Rochester, NY 
School: Howard University (Washington, DC) 
Major: Journalism 
Expected Graduation Date: May 2021 
Next-Gen Scholar Period / Chamber Division: Summer 2019/Department of Strategic Alliances and Outreach 
 

Next-Gen Scholars

 

 
How has your time as a Next-Gen Scholar impacted what you have done since? 

I was a Next-Gen scholar during the summer of 2019. The experience taught me about the importance of networking, recognizing the variety of professional opportunities in different industries and the importance of economic equity. The economic equity portion motivated me to get more involved in public affairs. Consequently, I became a Patricia Roberts Harris Public Affairs fellow at Howard University. This was an incredible experience that taught me about improving people’s lives through public policy, philanthropic support and invest from the private sector.  

The chamber also taught me about the importance of being involved in International Affairs. I learned that our economy heavy relies on international trade. This knowledge helped to encourage me to become a Charles B. Rangel Scholar for the U.S. Department of State. The opportunity taught me about a variety of careers in international affairs, and how we can support publics globally.  

 The U.S. Chamber also taught me about the importance of corporate social responsibility, given that private sector has a variety of discretionary resources.  This knowledge allowed me to become a successful William Randolph Hearst Fellow for the Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation (PSI) at the Aspen Institute. The private sector can make a significant impact through financial investment. I am just glad that the PSI team taught me about how philanthropy can make a significant impact on society.  

The chamber showed me the importance of investing in education, hence the Next-Gen program. This is knowledge encouraged me to propose a project regarding HBCUs to the Aspen Institute and become a HBCU Competitiveness Scholar at the White House Initiative on HBCUs. I made a proposal to Aspen about them focusing on how HBCUs are being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Aspen launched a three-part conversation series called “The Future of HBCUs in the COVID Era”. I became a panel contributor on two of the three panel discussions, and also co-authored a blog with Aspen. The blog shares resources to further understand HBCUs and the organizations that support them. The president of the Aspen Institute also wrote a Forbes article about our conversation. I was very proud about this accomplishment. The chamber truly taught to me about how to have the courage to demonstrate this kind of advocacy.  

The HBCU Competitiveness Scholars program helps me to bring resources back to my Howard community, which furthers my love of investing in education. Education is critical to empowering America’s future workforce. I realized that when the U.S. Chamber appointed Howard University’s, Dr. Frederick, to its Board of Directors.   

What was your favorite part of your time as a Next-Gen Scholar? 

My favorite part of being a part of the Next-Gen program was being exposed to the Casino/Gaming and credit industries. The chamber did an excellent job of showing us what professional opportunities exist in certain industries.  

What’s one takeaway or thing you learned from your time as a Next-Gen Scholar? 

I learned that equity matters. We have to recognize the importance of racial equity and make sure that this form of equity exists in all spaces.  

Describe your experience in 5 words or a phrase. 

5 Words: Inspiring. Eye-Opening. Fun. Friendly. Encouraging. 

What would you say to someone who is considering applying for Next-Gen? 

I would tell them that this will be a fantastic opportunity, regardless of what program you become a part of. I would tell them to come into the chamber with an open mind and get ready to learn so much about our economy! 

If you have participated in other internship programs, what differentiated the Next-Gen program from others? 

The Next-Gen program was unlike any other internship program. The U.S. Chamber made a considerable amount of investment in me and ensured that I acquired the professional skills necessary to be successful. Thank you so much to the chamber for everything it has done! 

 
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