Park Scholars Reflect on Roy H. Park's 100th Birthday

Compiled by Maura Gladys '11 and Zachary Tomanelli '11

Today marks the 100th birthday of a man whose name adorns two different buildings on the Ithaca College campus and another building in Downtown Ithaca. That man’s name is also is attached to an Ithaca College scholarship and a national media-study center housed at Ithaca College. That man is Roy H. Park, and he is synonymous with Ithaca, N.Y. But for many, that name — Roy H. Park — evokes more than a small college town on one of New York’s Finger Lakes. It calls to mind words like ingenuity, innovation, hard work, creativity, dedication to community, passion for media and belief in the power of education.

In honor of this day, several Ithaca College Park Scholars, past and present, reflected on the legacy of this man — who grew from a North Carolina farm boy into a renowned media executive, entrepreneur and philanthropist. They explained how his legacy has shaped their own development as media professionals, leaders and global citizens.

“I came across a quote of Roy Park’s when I was in college and scribbled it down: ‘Look for opportunity more than security and stability. Consider the breadth of an opportunity and do your best.’ I took that advice to heart and—even though I showed up at IC determined to be Katie Couric—did my best to branch out, explore and truly take advantage of the opportunities I’d been given. I’ve consistently found that seeking out opportunity and giving it my best seems to reap the biggest rewards. I’m extraordinarily grateful to the Park Foundation for not only embodying and teaching those values, but also for supporting students determined to learn them.” -Kate Levinson '07

“Roy Park’s creativity and passion as a leader, communicator, and philanthropist not only led to ground-breaking achievements in his lifetime, but inspired that same progressive thinking in generations since. Mr. Park’s influence has given me the means and the motivation to inspire change in my community. In helping to create and maintain a student-run grant-making body, I am able to contribute to his legacy.” -Mykal Urbina '11
“Roy Park was such a generous man. It’s because of his generosity that I considered doing a year of service after I graduated. I did that, and I was able to see a community I would have never seen before — Hunts Point, South Bronx. Through his generosity, I was able to identify my passions and give back to the world. For that I am grateful.” -Alice Pak '09
“Roy Park fused media and service, and he had such devotion to both facets and how they make a difference in the world. My involvement mirrors that fusion. A lot of what I write about is advocating for the rights of people and spotlighting issues that are important to people, so in that sense, I am modeling what he has done.” -Adam Polaski '12
“Roy Park truly devoted himself to his passion for media. He decided at a young age where he wanted to take his career, then he involved his family, friends and the world in that process. In his years of doing this, he touched millions of people and really shared the message of how powerful the media can be.” -Emily Miles '13
 “Roy Park was a man who didn’t make excuses for himself. He was persistent and he acted on what he thought was important. As scholars, we tend to adopt the same attitude that he had. We know with persistence, hard work and a little bit of self confidence, we can do anything that’s asked of us.” -Karla Berberich '11
“Roy Park is an inspiration to all of us in the communications school, most certainly to all Park Scholars. The days when I conduct an interview for The Ithacan and then head down to South Hill Elementary to volunteer, I can sense a part of his ambition in me. It makes me proud to be a part of something modeled after his work and aspirations.” -Becky Webster '11
"Although I never knew Roy Park personally, I owe him and the Park Foundation so much. I aspire to be like him, hoping that my aspirations in journalism will also serve the public. By reporting for NewsWatch 16 and serving my local Ithaca and Tompkins County community, I hope to embody Park’s ideals and change the world for the better." -Qina Liu '13
“Roy Park lived his life by the simple quote: ‘Look for opportunity more than security and stability. Consider the breadth of an opportunity and do your best.’ I believe that as a Park Scholar, I have been given the opportunity of a lifetime. With this opportunity comes the responsibility to give back. I feel is it my duty and privilege to try to emulate his constant dedication to society.” -Kirsten Quinn '12
“Roy Park's legacy is one that I try to somehow honor each day in my life. As a first grade teacher, the power of education is the reason I go to school everyday.  If I can somehow instill a love for learning in my first graders, then I've done my job. At the same time, I am trying to show them there is a world beyond their little lives. I want them to believe they are innovators and creators, even at the ripe young age of six. I feel the best way I can honor Park’s ideals is to pass them along to the next generation. Only then have I done his legacy justice." -Cassie Safrit '04
"I can think of no better environment for a young adult to grow academically, professionally, and personally than in the Park Scholar Program. Roy Park's legacy carries on in his values -- the values that drive the program. I believe in the power of volunteer work and how even a simple weekly commitment can make a positive impact. I often wonder if I would have been able to develop such a perspective as early on as I had without the guidance of his values. I feel incredibly fortunate just to be welcomed into a community that facilitates and supports this mindset." -Matt Pascua '08
"While I never had the opportunity to meet Roy Park, I am confident that his legacy lives on in each of the students at the Park School of Communications, especially the Park Scholars. I know he would have been proud of the community of learners that are some of the most creative, hardworking, and dedicated people I know." -Meg Loftus '09
"Roy Park was a leader, innovator, and a philanthropist. Through his example I have learned to embrace new opportunities, and to use my talents to pursue my passions. Mr. Park dedicated himself to giving back to his community, a lifestyle Park Scholars are encouraged to emulate, both in their homes in Ithaca and across the country. This idea of serving others is something I will carry with me into the future." -Danielle Barnet '08
"The impact of Roy Park’s legacy is far-reaching, even when contained to the scope of my own life, and even still so when contained to the scope of my post-graduate life. If I were to just choose one element of this impact, however, I would choose that in my regard for service. Before my time at Ithaca, much of the service I did, I did just to do with friends or for some of the many external motivators available for youth participating in service. Without exception-- all the service I participate in today is as a result of the powerful and lasting effects I witnessed service could have based on the story of Roy Park and those he supported and inspired. The consequence for me is a mutually rewarding act of service that I can’t help but to actively participate in and seek out on a regular basis." -Dan Ophardt '09
"Roy H. Park recognized the tremendous power of media to change the world. By empowering students to blend their passions for media and humanitarianism, Park ensured that generations of students could use their voice to leave an indelible mark on thousands of lives. Whether it’s through creating a documentary about poverty, writing an article unearthing human rights violations, or planning an event to benefit the suffering, Park’s influence and support has enabled students to mobilize communities, inspire change, and give a voice to those in need." -Liz Stoltz '13
"While I was not fortunate enough to meet Roy Park, I have been honored to benefit from his legacy at Ithaca College. His generous gift to the school has helped shape new generations of media makers. Most importantly, he has ensured that these media makers are imbued with a sense of responsibility to their audience, a spirit of community, and a deep respect for the importance of their work." -Kate Sheppard '06


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