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Parkites on the Job

Read about Park alumni who have found success with their Park University degrees.

Excerpts from Park University Magazine, Fall 2009


Paths to Service

Park alumni are delivering on their commitment to their education in public
government and military, to education and public safety. They are providing
vital services to citizens in cities, counties, states and nations around the globe.


Jaime Taylor, '07
Teacher, Northland (Kansas City, Mo.)
Early Education Center
For Jaime Taylor, nothing is more rewarding than serving children with special needs. She works with children six weeks to 5 years old to help them overcome a myriad of struggles. Taylor views their every step, clap and crayon scribble as a gift — and the true rewards of her profession. Her encouragement literally helped a child with developmental delays "learn" to smile for the first time. Taylor also worked with child abuse victims and spent a year teaching in South Korea.

Erica Zahabi, ‘08
Kindergarten Teacher
Imagine Renaissance Academy of Environmental Science and Math
Erica Zahabi is grateful to Park University for preparing her for the teaching profession — both the highs and lows. Like many teachers, she thrives on the personal rewards of working with students dealing with difficult personal situations. Besides academics, she encourages them to believe in themselves and their ability to achieve. Recognizing the impact teachers can have on a child’s life, Zahabi hopes her students will look back and appreciate their classroom experience.

Robin Williams Olson, ‘85
Early Childhood Special Educator
Kansas State School for the Deaf
Park’s Portfolio program was exactly what Robin Olson needed to augment her experience as a sign language interpreter and enter the field of deaf education. Today, Olson helps deaf children learn communication skills critical to their academic and personal success. She trains them to access information using visual rather than auditory learning tools and helps their families support their unique learning process. Olson is dedicated to a profession she finds challenging, “incredibly fun” and personally rewarding.

Mike Newburger, ‘70
Director, Southern Platte Fire Protection District
As a firefighter and emergency medical technician, Mike Newburger is dedicated to public safety. When he’s not in the field, he manages the business side of things — budgets, personnel and daily operations. His greatest satisfaction is working with the district’s devoted firefighters and he makes it a priority to visit at least one station weekly. As a native of New York, Newburger enjoyed his Park education and the quality of life in Parkville, Mo. where he decided to live — and serve — for more than 40 years.

Dean Cull, ‘84
Division Chief of Services/Fire Marshall
Southern Platte Fire Protection District
Fighting fires is more than keeping people safe. It’s a business. That’s why Dean Cull values his business degree from Park in directing the safety of southern Platte County, Mo. — including the Parkville Campus. Cull has been fighting fires for 25 years as a volunteer firefighter, instructor, inspector and investigator. He is dedicated to upholding the value of life and property through public education and code enforcement. In an emergency, Cull ensures all critical steps are taken for proper evacuation while containing fire from damaging the surrounding community.

Thomas R. Mooney, ‘67
Retired Captain, United States Navy
Capt. Thomas Mooney has been devoted to serving his country since graduating from Park and becoming a Navy officer. Military service has given him the opportunity to protect national security during several tours of duty, including the first Gulf War. He also served as chairman of the Joint and Surface Warfare Syndicates at Tactical Training Group Pacific in San Diego where he trained senior officers in tactical warfare curriculum. He completed a master’s in national security affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

Merideth Neal Parrish, ‘06, M.P.A. ‘08
City Communications Manager/
Public Information Officer
City of Blue Springs, Mo.
Merideth Parrish always knew she wanted to empower others with information. At Park, she discovered how to blend her interest in communications and government into a public service profession. Today, Parrish informs citizens about city services through web, print and media communications. Parrish believes that providing accurate and timely information about government activities prompts citizens to be more engaged. Earning her masters in public affairs while working, she said there was nothing better than daily application of her education.

Paul Markworth, M.P.A. ‘87
City Administrator
City of Lake Saint Louis, Mo.
City growth — new buildings, roads and housing — is the result of many decision makers. But one person develops the policies to make it all happen. That’s Paul Markworth. As a city administrator, he enjoys working closely with residents, elected officials and city staff to forge community improvements. Most rewarding for Markworth is leading projects from concept to completion. He values Park professors for “hammering home” the many factors — including good judgment and decision making skills — that are crucial in public management.

Ben Coughran, ‘78
Air Pollution Meteorologist
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Major metropolitan areas in the state of Texas rely on Ben Coughran for daily ozone and air quality forecasts — a vital factor in protecting natural resources and guiding sustainable economic development. Coughran helped develop the state’s ozone watch/warning system to monitor ozone levels and hazardous conditions. He relies on his Park education every day to analyze and deliver critical data that impacts the well-being of the public and supports critical decisions for civic and business leaders.

Randall C. Duncan, M.P.A. ‘06
Director of Emergency Management
Sedgwick County, Kan.
Randall C. Duncan is dedicated to helping people when they are in the greatest need — in the aftermath of disaster. Duncan coordinates the services of local, state and federal agencies to help citizens recover from emergencies — including natural disasters and threats to security. After years in the field, Duncan returned to Park for his masters in public affairs where he gained a greater respect for the connection between knowledge and real world application of emergency services


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