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Chance meeting leads to life changes

January 16, 2013

By Nancy George
SMU News

DALLAS (SMU) – When SMU junior Austin Michelsen attended his senior ring ceremony in December, he was quick to credit SMU alumna Eva Parks for that special day.

Eva Parks and Austin Michelsen
Austin Michelsen and Eva Parks
“I don’t think I’d be at SMU if it weren’t for Eva,” he said.

Their story starts on Oct. 1, 2011: Michelsen and Parks were among a throng of fans celebrating the SMU victory after the SMU-TCU football game in Fort Worth. As they walked to the parking lot, the community college student and the SMU alumna struck up a conversation – by the time Michelsen reached his car, he had Parks’ business card in hand, and her Mustang encouragement in his heart.

Michelsen was looking forward to transferring to a four-year university, but was discouraged following a recent string of tough events, including being robbed at gunpoint outside an Arlington restaurant.

“I told him if he was interested in SMU to call me,” said Parks, a 2003 SMU journalism graduate and investigator/producer for KXAS-TV. “I transferred to SMU when I was a junior. It changed my life.”

Within a week Michelsen called Parks, scheduled an SMU tour, met with SMU’s director of transfer admissions and services and submitted his application. He was accepted, and on Christmas Eve learned that he was awarded a scholarship. In January 2012 he arrived for class at SMU.

“I was very impressed with his follow-up,” says Parks. And Michelsen followed up again in inviting Parks to attend his ring ceremony.

Michelsen plans to graduate in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in sport management from the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Eva Parks, his fellow Mustang, will be there.

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