Brought To You By NSU; Written by Leah Jackson
After 31 years serving her alma mater, Jana Parker Lucky is retiring from Northwestern State University this summer. To celebrate Lucky’s retirement, her sisters, Jill Parker Bankston and Amy Parker Gleason, along with their mother, Janet Parker, announced The Parker Sisters Scholarship that will be awarded to a female student serving as the Intramural Sports Committee Chair of Phi Mu Fraternity, a position that each sister held.
The scholarship was announced during a reception when friends, family and colleagues gathered to celebrate Lucky and her dedication to the university for more than three decades.
“Jana graduated from Byrd High School in 1988 and, not knowing very many people, came down to NSU on her own, tried out to be a Demon cheerleader and she made it,” Bankston said. I remember when I was in high school, Jana and all her Phi Mu sisters and friends would come to Shreveport for the State Fair game and our house would be packed with people for the weekend. Her famous scare was during the Homecoming parade when her basket toss was so high, she almost hit the downtown bridge.”
The Parker sisters, who grew up in Shreveport, have strong ties to NSU, having each earned undergraduate degrees. Lucky earned a degree in journalism with a concentration in public relations in 1992. Bankston earned a degree in hospitality management and tourism with a minor in management in 1997 and Gleason earned a degree in health and exercise science in 1999. Lucky’s sons, Luke and Josh, and her daughter-in-law Abbey graduated from NSU as well as numerous extended family members. Her daughter Jessica is currently a student and cheerleader.
Lucky joined the NSU staff as a recruiter right after graduation and she was named assistant director of Recruiting two years later. During that time, she earned a master’s degree in student personnel services and she and her husband Kerry had two small children. She was appointed director of Recruiting in 2000. In 2002, Lucky and her recruiting team brought in a record number of 1,911 freshmen. When NSU moved to selective admissions in 2005, the recruiting team exceeded expectations and enrolled 1,340 students. During that time, Lucky also worked with students affected by Hurricane Katrina.
“It was so impressive how Jana and her team registered displaced students with a plan, with understanding and with grace in a crisis,” Bankston said.
Lucky was promoted to director of Enrollment in 2018 when NSU hit another record freshman class with 1,560. In the fall of 2020, NSU recorded its highest enrollment ever with 11,447 students.
During her time in recruiting and enrollment, Lucky was recognized across the state as an expert in her field, serving as chair recruiting services of Louisiana Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers for 10 years and as secretary for one.
“Jana has been a beacon for NSU, a voice of welcome, guidance and encouragement to prospective students and their families,” said former First Lady Brenda Webb. “The chances are very good that wherever Jana goes she will find someone she recruited to be in our Demon family.”
Former recruiters said Lucky set an example of how to have success as a wife, mother, professional and role model who inspired them and created a sense of family with her staff.
Lucky thanked those who worked on her recruiting team as well as the presidents with whom she served, Dr. Robert Alost, Dr. Randall Webb, Dr. Jim Henderson, Dr. Chris Maggio and Dr. Marcus Jones, and her first supervisor in Recruiting Marsha Graham.
“The reason Jana was so unbelievable about selling NSU is because she believed every word and was truly passionate about it,” Bankston said. “Amy and I also would like to honor and commemorate Jana’s retirement by announcing the Establishment of the Parker Sisters Scholarship that we’ve been working on for years and what better way to honor and congratulation our sister.”
Scholarship recipients must also be face to face students on the Natchitoches campus.
Friends can contribute to the scholarship by visiting https://northwesternstatealumni.com/parker-scholarship/.