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May 8, 2006
Contact: Lauren Beatty, University Relations, (785) 864-8856.

Graduation stories: KU senior liked her social worker so much, she became one

Storkel

Andrina Parker

LAWRENCE — For six years, University of Kansas senior Andrina Parker was homeless.

She wasn’t living on the streets or sleeping in a shelter — she was a foster child. Parker puts it bluntly: “I was in ‘the system.’ ”

Parker was placed in foster care when she was 3 years old. Luckily, Parker was introduced to Kari Simpson, whom Parker calls “the best social worker in the world.” They remain friends to this day.

“Research shows that one person can make the difference between a kid who makes it and one who doesn’t,” said Alice Lieberman, KU professor of social welfare who knows Parker’s story. “For Andrina, that person was her social worker.”

At age 9, Parker was adopted by Rich and Carla Parker of DeSoto. She went on to Johnson County Community College, then KU. It was easy to decide on a major: social welfare.

“I’ve wanted to be a social worker since I was 9 years old,” Parker said.

Parker will graduate May 21 with a bachelor’s degree. She is hoping to get a job with Social and Rehabilitation Services.

Sometime in the future, Parker wants to go to law school and to become a U.S. senator. She wants to rewrite policies that govern child welfare and juvenile justice.

“What impresses me most about Andrina is her drive, her dedication and her ability to use her experience for the good of other children who are experiencing the same thing,” Lieberman said.

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