On Ken Parker’s pathway to becoming an Oklahoma Creativity Ambassador, Parker said his education as an Oklahoma Christian University alumnus prepared him to stand on the stage and accept his award.
Governor Mary Fallin designated Parker as one of five prominent Oklahomans and on April 4 he was named the Oklahoma Creativity Ambassador, an award for advanced creativity and innovation in education, commerce and culture.
Parker graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in math and computer science from Oklahoma Christian. Professor of Computer Science and Director of Computer Science Advancement David North said that he fondly remembered Parker as a student during his time at Oklahoma Christian.
“Ken was an outstanding student in his OC Computer Science classes,” North said. “The strong work ethic and strong abilities that have enabled him to have a great career were evident when he was a student.”
Parker attributed some of his success to the people he connected with at Oklahoma Christian.
“The network of friends, teachers and leaders from OC has been a blessing through my career,” Parker said. “And the character OC helped developed is incredibly valuable.”
As one of the Oklahoma Creativity Ambassadors, Parker said he would like to bring his encouragement, experiences and connections to others.
“I will spend a lot of time connecting with people around our great state,” Parker said. “I will also speak about entrepreneurism and creativity when the opportunity presents itself.”
Dating back to Parker’s high school life, Parker said his math teacher Ron Parker gave him the opportunity to discover computer science through access to a Litton desktop computer.
“Computers were quite rare in rural Oklahoma,” Parker said. “So it was an enormous blessing. I fell in love with computers, and it changed my life.”
After high school, Parker attended Oklahoma Christian and kept his interest in computer science. During his school life, Parker said he never thought about giving up on computer science even when the courses he took were challenging.
“I decided that software was most interesting to me,” Parker said. “I was blessed by David North with an internship invitation to help develop video games for Enterprise Square. If there was ever any doubt in my mind about software as a fun career, that internship erased it.”
North is piloting an alumni engagement program with his Oklahoma Christian computer science classes.
“While he was a student, I hired him to work on a special project programing on Apple II computers,” North said. “It was complex and required a good bit of independent problem solving. Ken was always ready to take on a challenge and able to find solutions to the hard problems. It has been enjoyable and no surprise to see him succeed in his many different endeavors throughout his career.”
It has been 33 years since Parker graduated from Oklahoma Christian. Since then, he said he has gone through so many things that have “knocked him down and helped him succeed.” He said that following his interests is the one thing that has encouraged him through his life.
“I’ve never really had a strategic plan,” Parker said. “In hindsight, I now see a simple strategy I followed, look for interesting things to do, give it everything you’ve got, develop mutually-beneficial relationships with lots of people.”
Parker said he summarized his life experiences with three important words – faith, family and friends – and that this phrase has supported him wherever he goes.