Natalie Parker

This week, you may have seen advertising everywhere for KU Alternative Breaks (@kualbreaks), thanks in large part to the hard work of Natalie Parker. Natalie Parker (@natparker), a senior double majoring in Journalism and Global and International Studies is one lady who is always on the go. Besides acting as the PR Coordinator for KU Alternative Breaks for the last two years, Natalie is also the Communications Director for the KU The Future Majority, a Communications Intern for the campaign for Paul Davis for Governor, the Vice Chair of the Student Rights Committee for Student Senate, the KU Liaison for Students for a Sustainable Future and a member of the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society.

The 2013-14 Alternative Breaks Core members at the Mortar Board initiation in May

Natalie is a major supporter of Alternative Breaks, having served on the exec team since her sophomore year, after her first Alternative Break during the summer of 2012. Since her first Alternative Break in Charlotte, North Carolina, volunteering with the LGBT Center of Charlotte (LGBTQ issues), she has volunteered at 826 Chicago (Education), at Thrive DC (Homelessness) in Washington D.C. and at Homeboy Industries (Gang Rehabilitation) in Los Angeles.

Natalie would say her favorite Alt Break memory was in Chicago:

"On my second Alternative Break to work with 826 Chicago, a non-profit creative writing and tutoring center in inner-city Chicago, I got to make up story prompts for the children at the center. I worked with a young girl who was absolutely enthralled with writing and asked me to make up prompt-after-prompt for her. I got to use my creativity to spark her own, which was a fantastic moment and cemented in me the absolute necessity of non-profits and their impact in the lives of kids.

Natalie with her spring 2013 Alternative Break group in front of the 826 Chicago store.

Natalie is incredibly involved and for this reason it's obvious why she has been honored this year as a KU Woman of Distinction. Her passion is obvious for each of her commitments and you can see why she would be chosen as one of four KU women for Modeling Leadership. Natalie said about the honor:

"I am extremely thankful for this honor and am so glad to be able to follow the actions of women who I consider to be my mentors and friends. I have never been the president of an organization, but I have consistently tried to excel in each of the activities I have chosen to do. I put my all into what I dedicate myself to, and I am supremely happy to have been recognized for it. You don’t have to be THE leader to be A leader."

Natalie with a co-worker at an internship at the Washington Foreign Press Center for the U.S. Department of State.

Civic engagement and public service are issues that are close to Natalie's heart. She believes finding a place within a community and then working to change that community is a major part of life and especially important for college students to find more about who they are. For Natalie, she has found a place in the discussion about improving how sexual assault cases at KU are being treated. She's currently working with the Student Rights Committee to change the status quo to better protect KU students. Natalie encourages KU students to go to Civic Engagement and Leadership Week to find out how they can become involved with current issues in our community!

Natalie's summer 2014 Alternative Break group with Richard, who works at Homeboy Industries in LA.

Natalie encourages students to get involved in whatever ways they can. One easy way she suggests to get involved in our community right now is by registering to vote here. You can also learn more about issues you are interested in by applying for an Alternative Break. The application deadline for our Fall and Winter Breaks is Friday, so apply now!

"Alternative Breaks allow students to step out of their own, often closed-off communities and see a different perspective. By serving in this way, students are able to learn about non-profits, connect with other KU students and be challenged in ways that they never imagined. Alternative Breaks has been extremely formative for me – both in what I’ve chosen to be involved with at KU and what I’ve decided to do in life! Creating a commitment to public service early in my college career has changed me for the better, and I can’t imagine where I would be without it."