Before he was running investigations for the FCC or working on high-profile court cases, Evan Parke (BS/biochemistry, ’97) was in a bad place.
Twenty-plus years later, he can still remember sitting in his freshman dorm at Snyder Hall, confused and lonely, his wrist heavily bandaged.
“From a suicide attempt earlier that summer,” he says. “(I was) struggling with an alcohol and drug addiction that would soon grow worse, wondering how, on the one hand, I could keep my struggles a secret from my freshman colleagues while, on the other hand, I could capitalize on the educational opportunity the university had to offer.
“I soon learned that no progress could be attained until I first faced my inner demons and received help for my struggles. In 1995, I was fortunate to connect with compassionate people at the university who helped steer me in the right direction and gave me another chance, including administrators in the dean’s office at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“I have made good on that second chance over the last three decades. I graduated from the university, received master’s (Minnesota) and law (Northwestern) degrees from Big Ten universities, and have helped many along the way and accomplished much as a professional.”
Just when he thought it couldn’t get any better than opening his own law firm in the nation’s capital (Parke LLC), along came another career highlight, he says: “having the opportunity to help prove the innocence of the former captain of the University of Illinois football team this last year after (Curt Lovelace) spent over 600 days in jail awaiting trial on murder charges.
“Thank you, University of Illinois, and happy birthday."