Merrill Grad Evan Parker Tells Students ‘Be Curious’

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Merrill Grad Evan Parker Tells Students ‘Be Curious’
Oct 9, 2018

By Jamal Seaforth

Philip Merrill College of Journalism graduate Evan Parker (’05) was recently promoted to vice president of content at NASCAR.

Prior to his promotion, Parker, 36, oversaw NASCAR’s social media, production company, entertainment and marketing and graphic design teams. In August 2018, NASCAR made the move to put all content teams into one department, which Parker now oversees.

“I love to grow the sport and find new NASCAR fans,” Parker said. “I spend my days figuring out what are the coolest ways to increase NASCAR’s following, whether it’s through an Instagram story or animated graphic.”

Parker said his job is “a lot of fun and pressure being the conduit between the league and fans, as I get to put out hundreds of pieces of content every day seen by millions worldwide.”

Merrill College prepared him for his career in various ways, Parker said. Originally from California, he traveled across the country to attend the University of Maryland.

“I picked UMD because I wanted to find a school that offered both a great journalism program and had good sports teams,” Parker said. “I wanted to focus on sports journalism, and it was important to me that the teams I was covering be fun to watch, unlike Northwestern at the time.” Despite the distance from home, Parker said Maryland was undoubtedly the right choice.

“While I didn’t meet many other Californians while at UMD, I never regretted the decision. It was as fun and interesting a period as I can imagine having.”

Merrill College offered him the opportunity to take sports-specific journalism classes.

“I started the same time George Solomon started the sports program, when it was just one class,” Parker said. “That was the first time I took a class anywhere in life geared toward something I wanted to make my career”

Solomon is now the director of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism, which launched in 2011.

Parker said Merrill College presented the unique opportunity to learn from experts in the field. Speakers – such as ESPN’s Darren Rovell and Michael Wilbon – came to talk to his classes and offer first-hand accounts.

“It was important to get perspective from guys who have made a career in that industry, and George’s class was about the world I wanted to live in,” Parker said.

Despite his passion for sports, Parker said Merrill College ensured he still received a well-rounded education, which is something he still feels is important.

“Merrill forced you to be well-rounded, and this gave me the ability to have an open mind,” he said. “One piece of advice I would share with students currently in the College of Journalism is be curious, learn everything you can. Too often people think they know what they’re going to do, but the world is changing fast. I encourage students to ask questions as you progress through school and minor in business if you can, because everything ties back to business.”

Parker, a business minor himself, said both his fields of study have been invaluable to his success with NASCAR.

“I came to school with the idea I was going to do play-by-play broadcasting for sports on TV and radio … and it was my senior year when I interned with the Washington Redskins PR department when I thought about sports from a business standpoint for the first time,” Parker said. “That internship propelled me to pursue jobs in sports business, and I now have a job where I don’t practice [traditional] journalism, but because Merrill instilled having a minor, that allowed me to expand his horizon and open the door for more opportunities while still being able to work in sports.”

Homepage image: Evan Parker (Courtesy of Twitter)

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