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Alumni Feature

Each quarter we will feature a story about our Parchment alumni here.

By Dave Person

The Zackery siblings: Shannon, Trey, and Kristen, each began following the same path after their graduations from Parchment High School: They became proud Michigan State University Spartans.

But once arriving on campus the children of Dale and Elaine Zackery each blazed their own trail into the fields of health, business and education.

And each of their careers was sparked by different motivations they received while students in the Parchment Public Schools.

Parchment Alumni Feature: Zackery Family

Shannon Zackery Wilson, 37, graduated from Parchment and the Kalamazoo Area Math & Science Center in 1998. Intrigued by science, she concentrated for most of her high school career on KAMSC classes, but she also developed leadership skills through serving on the student council at Parchment.

One of her most memorable K-12 educational experiences came while she was still in elementary school.

"I loved my fourth-grade teacher Mrs. (Cathy) McCarthy," Shannon says. "She had a wonderful spirit and she really wanted her students to learn; she made it fun and interesting."

Shannon went on to earn her bachelor's degree in medical microbiology from MSU before going to graduate school at the University of Michigan, where she received her masters of public health in hospital and molecular epidemiology.

She went to work for the state of Michigan as its first health disparities epidemiologist before taking a job with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta as a domestic scientific program coordinator in the area of HIV and AIDS. She also traveled to Africa to conduct AIDS studies on behalf of the federal government.

She subsequently returned to Michigan to work with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations Aligning Forces for Quality health-care initiative.

She is currently executive director of the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, which aims to improve the health and health care of the community through research, education and advocacy.

She also is pursuing a doctoral degree in public health leadership from the University of Illinois-Chicago and has been an adjunct faculty member at Grand Valley State University and on-call faculty member for the MSU College of Medicine.

As if that weren't enough, she is president of the Greater Grand Rapids Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, an organization for mothers of African American children, and founder and immediate past president of the Urban League Young Professionals in Grand Rapids.

A former Young Professional of the Year in Grand Rapids, Shannon also enjoys public speaking.

She and her husband, David Wilson, whom she met at MSU, live in Grand Rapids with their two daughters.

Some of the memories of Parchment High School that stick in Trey Zackery's mind are of two teachers and basketball coach Larry Bailey.

Shani Wertman (now Walton), his math teacher, gets Trey's vote for his most influential teacher because she was so much fun.

Life lessons were learned by both teacher and student in another class, Trey remembers. The teacher was Dan Tindall and the lesson came during a test that Trey took and took his time on. Tindall was worried about the amount of effort Trey put into the test, knowing that typically it was a sign of a student who was struggling.

"He told me it took me so long to finish the test that he thought I'd just bombed it, and instead I aced it," Trey recalls.

Tindall told him the lessons learned were for Trey that it was OK to take your time and for him that it was never too late to learn something new about how a student learns.

"Probably the person that had the most effect on me from the standpoint of Parchment was Larry Bailey," says Trey, who was a basketball standout for Parchment.

"He put his heart and soul into our program, and did a lot for me, too. So if anyone had a long-term effect it would probably be Mr. Bailey.

He did any- and everything for me. He would open up the gym for me and my friends who didn't go to Parchment to play basketball on Saturdays. He was a very cool guy."

After graduating from Parchment in 2001, Trey followed his older sister to MSU.

"I started off in engineering and realized that was not what I wanted to do," he says.

One of his friends from the Parchment basketball team, Jake Olmstead, was working in Grand Rapids in sales and Trey latched on to that as something he might be interested in doing, so he switched fields and graduated from MSU in 2006 with a communications degree.

He became familiar with Kone Elevator at a career fair at MSU and was hired to work in sales for the company in East Lansing before moving to Bettendorf, Iowa, for a few months and then even farther West.

I moved out to San Diego, California, with them in 2007 and was out there for five-and-a-half years, he says.

In 2010, he and his wife, Katrina, whom he had met at MSU, were married, and in 2012 they decided to move back to Michigan, where Trey took a job as modernization sales manager with Thyssen Krupp Elevator.

"I did that until last October (when) I had a unique opportunity within the industry to buy a small consulting firm," he says.

Trey, 35, is now president of that company, Corporate Elevator Asset Management, in Novi, just outside of Detroit. The company, founded in 1996, has six employees and has clients all over the country.

Trey and Katrina are the parents of 17-month-old twins, a son and daughter.

Kristin Zackery Campbell, 29, the third Zackery child, has lived for the past six years in Phoenix, Arizona, where she and her husband, Justin Campbell, own an education consulting business that provides professional development for teachers.

While Justin works with math teachers, Kristin gets to work in the areas she grew to love as a student at Parchment High School English and social studies.

She credits teachers Kevin Huff and Branden Johnson with instilling those passions within her.

"Mr. Huff was a phenomenal English teacher," Kristen says. "I really enjoyed his class and digging into novels."

It was in his class that she decided to pursue a career in English and education, she says.

Similarly, Mr. Johnson made social studies come alive for her.

"I remember vividly that was a fun social studies class," she says.

"I think those two classes helped the most in shaping what I wanted to concentrate on, and helped me...so I can help other teachers."

After graduating from Parchment in 2006, Kristen followed her siblings to MSU, emerging four years later with a degree in elementary education.

"At MSU, you have to do a year (teaching) internship after you graduate," Kristen says. Since she has relatives in Detroit she chose to do her internship in the Detroit Public Schools. Not only did she teach during that year, but she also coached boys and girls middle school basketball teams.

She expected to stay there after the internship, but Detroit was laying off teachers and she realized she had no future there.

"I was really kind of stuck because I thought I had a job. At that point I decided I just needed to find a job."

She also had relatives in Phoenix, so she applied for a teaching job there and got it. She moved to Phoenix in 2011, teaching third grade for two years at one school and fourth grade for three years at another school while also coaching middle school boys basketball teams.

In the meantime, Justin, who is from Southfield and whom Kristen has known since they were in high school though on opposite sides of the state also moved to Phoenix to teach; they were married in 2015.

They started their consulting business, The Urban Connection Project, in 2014 while they were still teaching, and then left their teaching jobs to pursue consulting full time last year.

"We basically provide professional development for teachers," Kristen says. That includes doing observations and providing one-one-one coaching of teachers.

In addition, they coach an AAU travel basketball team made up of inner-city high school varsity basketball players.

"We spend our summers traveling to tournaments pretty much," Kristen says.

"Another part of what we do is go to colleges and universities and work with students to help them figure out what they want to do," Kristen says.

That recently brought them back to Kalamazoo where they met with students at Western Michigan University. They also have a consulting account in Detroit, which brings them back to their home state frequently and allows Kristen to spend time with her nieces and nephew.

Kristen says she finds her work to be very rewarding.

"I'm really passionate about helping people figure out what they want to do every day that makes them happy," she says.