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Generous gift from Stacy and Mark Parkinson will help WSU students experience Washington, D.C., as interns

Stacy and Mark Parkinson at a Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Stacy and Mark Parkinson at a Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Their gift will provide generous stipends to Wichita State students to help cover expenses associated with working as interns for a semester in Washington.

Stacy and Mark Parkinson grew up in Wichita and attended Wichita State University, so Kansas will always be near and dear to their hearts.

But Washington, D.C., where they live now, is a mighty contender for their affections. The nation’s capital played an important role in the formative years of this couple, years they remember with fondness and even reverence.

Now, the Parkinsons want more Wichita State students to have the same opportunities they had to learn and live in the District. With a generous gift pledge, they have established the Mark and Stacy Parkinson WA Semester Program to expand a program WSU has for students who want to intern in Washington.

“We’re hopeful this scholarship will provide future generations of Kansans the opportunity to experience D.C. in the same ways we have,” says Stacy, who attended WSU but ultimately got two bachelor’s degrees and a law degree from the University of Kansas. “There is no place like Kansas, but an exposure to D.C. has enriched our lives and we want to provide others this same chance.”

Mark, a 1980 graduate of Wichita State as well as a former Kansas governor, also received his law degree from KU, where he and Stacy met. Mark currently is president and CEO of American Health Care Association, the nation’s largest association of long-term and post-acute care providers.

In between his time at Wichita State and the start of law school, Mark worked for a congressman in Washington. Both he and Stacy worked a summer in D.C. and came close to accepting jobs there, but instead chose to come back to Kansas to marry and start their family.

At Wichita State, where he graduated summa cum laude, Mark made some of his greatest memories as a member of the debate team. He competed on the teams that went to the national tournament in 1977 and 1979.

“Coach John Schunk and his staff gave us incredible opportunities,” Mark recalls. “It’s where I really developed as a thinker and as a person.”

In 2011, Mark and Stacy endowed a debate scholarship at Wichita State.

“Wichita State has always been an important part of my life,” Mark says. “I grew up next to the campus and have many memories of running around the golf course, listening to basketball games in the early ’60s (when we were also very good), and spending hours at the library working on high school debate.”

The Parkinsons' newest gift to Wichita State will take effect this spring.


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