Parker Lynch (MA '13), is a graduate of the Department of Teaching and Learning's dual masters program in childhood education and special education. In 2007 he gave up a career in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in Detroit to teach kindergarten at Wells International School in Bangkok,Thailand, where he discovered the strategy of gamification in education, which shaped his future teaching endeavors.
Parker is the co-founder and executive director of Born and Raised in Detroit Foundation and the CEO of HedgeHog Health where he is revolutionizing education technology and wellness for families with children diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and ADHD. We spoke with him about his career path to innovation and invention.
The Hoglet was inspired by a student who wasn't able to bring his fidget device into the computer lab."
Tell us about the Born & Raised Detroit Foundation. What's in its future?
I started Born & Raised Detroit Foundation almost accidentally. It originally was intended to be a one-off event during Thanksgiving to bring our friends together, many of which had moved away from Detroit. We used our party as a fundraiser, and donated the proceeds to a a Detroit-based youth charity. After we had that first event, many of our friends in Chicago and New York asked if we could host a similar event in those cities, and so we became a 501c3. Since 2009, we have remained 100% volunteer and have donated over $500,000 to a host of Detroit-area nonprofits to help the youth of Detroit. I would love to be able to continue having events for Born and Raised, but Covid has made live events difficult for the past couple of years.
I have a dream where Born and Raised could eventually be Born and Raised in... (fill in city), and operate in multiple cities, benefitting charities around the USA. The events would be organized by each city's local community and pay homage to the hometown, with locally-sourced music and food.
The key to navigating the uncertainty is to not be afraid to pivot multiple times to adapt to change."
What advice do you have for this generation of students who are coming of age during this uncertain time?
My advice for this generation of students would be to try and use this uncertainty to your advantage. This is the perfect time to challenge the status quo and reflect on how industries can be improved by doing things differently. HedgeHog Health was launched during the pandemic; I saw it as the perfect time to use the extra hours of the day to create a business plan and reach out to family and friends to get feedback. The key to navigating the uncertainty is to not be afraid to pivot multiple times to adapt to change. Be stubborn to succeed, but not too stubborn to be malleable with your gameplan.
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