Parker Jackson
Parker Jackson

My path to the Wake Forest Evening MBA program began when, after 10 years of active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, I decided to leave active duty military service. My return to civilian life coincided with the announcement of the military drawdown – a reduction in our nation’s armed services.

I decided on three priorities for my transition:

  • Remain active in the Marine Corps Reserve, which has opened countless opportunities for personal and professional growth, networking, and proven fulfilling beyond my expectations.
  • Seek a career path that would endure for years to come, and provide opportunities for continued growth.
  • Pursue an MBA. I chose Wake Forest University School of Business and the Winston-Salem Evening MBA program.


Outstanding students

Wake Forest boasts outstanding students, with a can-do attitude, and the desire to help their classmates be successful. These are my classmates. Wake Forest also has ties with major industry players and innovators and hosts networking events where these industry leaders come to find their future leaders. The faculty and staff have a sincere interest in seeing students not only find work, but find rewarding work. Looking for the next opportunity has been an exciting adventure. While I am anxious to make the leap into a new career, I’m not worried. The support is immense and consultative. I believe that my next career move will be lasting and rewarding. As I’m working to complete my transition into a meaningful career with the incredible support that Wake Forest offers, I’m earning a world-class education.

Faculty support

While education opportunities are what the individual makes of them  professors at the School of Business go out of their way to ensure that their students have every opportunity and all the tools to be successful. They are available in person and readily respond to emails. They understand that we have obligations, and while the requirements for completing a class are non-negotiable, for legitimate life or work events they go above and beyond to make sure that we have the opportunity to complete the requirements.  I was on reserve duty during a final exam after communicating the situation my professor allowed me to take it as soon as I returned to the area, and he stayed at Farrell Hall until after 10 pm to allow me to finish. Of course, part of that is on him for creating a four hour exam, but I appreciate the level of student dedication such actions display. For sincere needs, they really do all they can to ensure their students have every opportunity for success.

Competitive and close-knit

The final aspect of my Wake Forest experience is the culture. It’s as competitive as any industry, and it’s as close knit as family. I’ve run half-marathons with classmates through Winston-Salem where we pointed out competitors to overtake. I ran a 24-hour race with probably the most competitive person on the face of the earth (I mean that as a compliment, and I believe she’d take it as such.), an NCAA champion, study partner, and great friend who’d never let a teammate down.

Melissa Martin and Parker Jackson at changing running shifts at the Lapper’s Delight, 24 Hour Run at Jomeokee Park


Parker-2I’ve celebrated personal recognition with my Wake Forest family. In January 2015, I was promoted to the rank of Major in the Marine Corps Reserve. That was an incredible day, and Wake Forest played a huge role. I was allowed to be promoted in the Bern Beatty Colloquium, the most incredible room in Farrell Hall. Kevin Bender, Executive Director of the Evening MBA program, and US Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel, took time from his busy life and weekend to serve as the promoting officer. Classmates with families, careers, homework, and scarce free time made time to share this event with me. I continue to be amazed at the culture. Our motto is Pro Humanitate, and for the Evening MBA students this is not lip service.  We are there for each other. We work hard and we play hard!

There is nothing easy about embarking on this adventure, but I have yet to find anything easy to be particularly rewarding. This program is not for the faint of heart, and it’s not for lone wolves. It is for people who have something special to give, and for those who want to lead special lives. I am amazed at the things my classmates are doing every day in their various professions.

This program is not for the faint of heart, and it’s not for lone wolves. It is for people who have something special to give, and for those who want to lead special lives.

I definitely chose the right place to begin life again as a civilian, and I am grateful that Wake Forest chose me for this opportunity. This program has been incredible, and I expect to have a heavy heart when we graduate, but that, too, will be an exciting new beginning.

Austin Elliott, Parker Jackson, Melissa Martin representing the class of 2016-completion of the Winston Salem 1/2 Marathon, Reynolda Village, October 2014.
Austin Elliott-2016, Liz Miller, David Miller-2016, John Champlin-2015, Beth Harrington-2015, Melissa Martin-2016, Parker Jackson-2016-at just before running the 2014 Mistletoe Half Marathon.