Los Angeles Times: Costa Mesa native William Parker strives to give back

By: Matt Szabo

William Parker is a busy 20-year-old.

He’s a junior at UC Berkeley majoring in international politics, though the school has switched to all virtual learning during the coronavirus pandemic. Parker is involved with the Black Recruitment and Retention Center on campus.

The Costa Mesa native has also launched two startup companies recently. Unraveled App, which he founded with Berkeley graduate Madhuri Gujje, deals with relationships and their roles in people’s lives. Wall Street Bites is about instilling financial literacy at a young age.

Things have moved quickly for Parker. It’s been about six years since he was a freshman at Samueli Academy in Santa Ana and he built his own electric bicycle. That spirit of invention and entrepreneurship remains as alive as ever.

For Parker, trial and error was the only way to operate.“I would always ask the teacher or someone older than me, ‘How did you get to where you are today?’” he said. “There was no common theme of, ‘I did X, Y and Z, and now I’m here.’ When I realized that, I was like, ‘If I try everything I possibly can at a very young age, then I’ll be able to have a better idea of what it is I want to do. I just tried as many things as possible to see where it would lead me. If I fail at this, then that only gives me another lesson to then incorporate into the next thing that I do.

It has already come full circle for Parker, part of Samuel Academy’s second graduating class in 2018. He has completed a pair of internships — one in high school, one in college, with LPA Design Studios in Irvine. LPA was the company that recently completed Samueli’s recent expansion, including an on-campus residence, a student innovation center and a building for seventh and eighth graders.

“He’s a great kid,” LPA Chief Executive Officer Wendy Rogers said. “He definitely has an entrepreneurial spirit, which of course we love at LPA, and he has a lot of tenacity. He was in college and had reached out for an internship. Typically, we like them to get a little more conceptional experience in school before we bring on interns, close to more like their third year. But you know, it was William, and he was super-persistent. It was like, ‘Yeah, of course you’re coming back.’ He will be a force, for sure.”

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