June 8, 2023Parker Selected for Gensler’s Rising Black Designer Micro-Scholarship
Jermaine Parker Jr. developed an interest in architecture during visits to his grandfather’s construction sites in Memphis, Tennessee. He explored the buildings, pondering their design, materials, and spatial arrangement.
Now a third-year architecture student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Parker has been recognized by Gensler as one of 22 emerging designers in the US and the United Kingdom. He is one of two rising juniors selected for the scholarship, awarded to bachelor’s and master’s students.
“Gensler is committed to introducing diverse students to careers in architecture and design,” said Diane Hoskins, Co-CEO of Gensler. “We are proud to support these talented young designers as they pursue higher education and emerge as the next generation of design leaders who embrace the opportunity to address the world’s most complex challenges.”
Receiving this award validates Parker’s ongoing efforts and his commitment to enhancing the architectural environment in which he grew up.
“I know that being around certain structures that are not the most well-designed can hinder you mentally and how some schools feel like prisons,” he said. “My goal is to redesign spaces to help free up the mind and show that students from low-income areas are worthy to enter any space.”
As a first-generation student, Parker plans to work with students in low-income areas, much like the one he grew up in, in order to inspire more young Black architects and designers. He plans to collaborate with high school students through Project Excellence, an initiative by UT’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, as well as the Emerald Youth Center in the coming year.
“My goal will take time to do, but being a mentor is a way I can make change now,” he said. “I wish to develop a relationship with students and work towards growing their hunger for success through implementing in them the mindset that your surroundings don’t decide your future, in terms of not only structures, but the social environment. This is one way to get to the root of the problem while in the process of trying to fix another problem that’s clearly apparent.”
This summer, Parker is interning with brg3s, a firm specializing in healthcare design in Memphis.
In 2020, Gensler launched the Rising Black Designers Scholarship + Design Challenge to help talented design students overcome the costs associated with higher education. This annual program awards tuition scholarships, micro-scholarships for books and materials, and opportunities for summer internships to underrepresented Black students enrolled in US-based not-for-profit architecture programs.