Supporting Black Excellence

Brian '08, '14 & Olubunmi (Bunmi) Parks '08, '13

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Family standing in museum

Brian ’08, ’14 & Olubunmi (Bunmi) Parks ’08, ’13, holding their two children

Your careers started in West Michigan and have taken you back to Detroit. Tell us about that.

Brian: I have always had a career in finance. I started at Mercantile Bank as a commercial credit analyst and then transitioned to Herman Miller in the credit department as a financial analyst, where I worked for five years. I was recruited to General Motors in 2016 and work there as an analyst for the Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis department.

Bunmi: My career has included a mix of all my passions. My first job was coordinator for GVSU’s Community Service Learning Center. I then moved into human resources for Cascade Engineering for three years. I transitioned to the City of Grand Rapids in a human resources analyst role. While I was working for the city, Brian was recruited back home by GM when I was eight months pregnant. I took a year off to heal and bond with our newborn while getting adjusted to a new home. 

When I went back to work, I took a senior level job with a chemical manufacturing company before accepting my dream job with a local nonprofit, Detroit Justice Center. 

What are your favorite things about living in Detroit?

Brian: My favorite things about Detroit are the culture, rich history, the fact my family is here, the food and the number of opportunities.

Talk about your commitment to Detroit’s revitalization.

Brian: My wife and I have been in real estate since 2014. We are working to continue to rehab homes and apartment buildings in Detroit. So far, we have done two projects in the area.

Why did you choose to attend Grand Valley?

Bunmi: After taking a trip to GVSU with my high school, I fell in love with the campus. I could see myself at Grand Valley, and it was just far enough from home for me to feel like I went away for college. 

What were your campus experiences like?

Brian: I worked a lot with the National Society of Black Engineers. It helped me to network with people, give back and attend national conferences, which opened my eyes to the world. I earned a finance and economics degree and I worked for the Van Andel Global Trade Center, within the Seidman College of Business.

Bunmi: I started out as a pre-engineering student, so my first college days were spent at the Keller Engineering lab making a key chain. After switching my major, I got immersed in volunteering and experiencing campus life. I had an on-campus job in the Human Resources Benefits Office that helped shape my career. While working and studying, I served on Student Senate, National Society of Black Engineers, the M-Programs through the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and I played intramural volleyball.  

You give to the Couch Black Excellence Scholarship, established by Michael ’06 and Janean ’05, ’08 Couch. Why is that particular fund important to you?

Brian: It’s important to us to give to that scholarship because we believe in Black excellence and ensuring people of color have the tools they need to succeed in higher education. GVSU opened my eyes to so many opportunities in this world and surrounded us with a network of people who I continue to work with to increase wealth in the Black community. We want to make sure the needs of people are taken care of so they can live out their dreams.

Bunmi: We love Michael and Janean and support anything they are doing. We also strongly believe in providing opportunities for others as people provided for us; it’s our way of paying it forward.

Why do you feel that giving back to Grand Valley is important?

Brian: It’s important because someone gave so I can be where I am today. We must continue to do the same for the next generation.

What would you say to others to encourage giving back to Grand Valley?

Bunmi: We encourage everyone to give back to GVSU. Life is about more than just taking, and we firmly believe in the principle of sowing and harvesting.