Derek Gordon ‘07
Major: Political Science
Job Title: Director, Canton Parks
Hometown: Canton, Ohio
I currently oversee 16 employees, more than 800 acres of park land and a budget of approximately $2.5 million that funds the operations of Canton Parks. Being able to lead the park district of my hometown is a challenging and rewarding honor. In this position, I had the opportunity to help pass the City’s first ever park levy in 2013.
MY EXCEPTIONAL STORY
Why Mount Union
Once I realized that I was not going to receive a Division I baseball scholarship, Mount Union was a perfect fit. I was able to compete athletically, pursue a well-respected degree, and my academic performance in high school led to scholarship opportunities that made Mount Union the most affordable choice. Alliance was situated perfectly between my hometown of Canton, Ohio and where a majority of my extended family lives in Salem, Ohio.
Successful Job Placement
Mount Union’s focus and success with graduate placement distinguishes it from other institutions. This focus gives me pride in being a Mount Union graduate and makes it easy for me to recruit high school graduates making a college choice. I also believe that the low cost of tuition relative to other liberal arts institutions in the state and country make Mount Union a tremendous value.
Each professor in the Department of Political Science had such unique real world experience and expertise that their collective impact and guidance was invaluable.
I received the position of Research and Referral Specialist for the Mayor’s Office in the City of Canton. I was extremely grateful to earn a position in my hometown and have multiple opportunities for advancement in a very short time frame.
My advisor, Dr. Jack DeSario, was adamant that I pursue an internship with one of the Mayoral campaigns in Canton in 2007. While I did not have a relationship with either candidate, had no connections with either political party and did not (and still do not) enjoy campaigning, Dr. DeSario understood my passion for my hometown and helped me acquire an internship with current Mayor, William J. Healy II. It was a very intense experience, but was critical in obtaining my first job and I am deeply appreciative for Dr. DeSario’s persistence.
Much of my spare time at Mount Union was spent at Tannenhauf Golf Course for the golf team and coaching as an assistant for my high school golf and baseball teams. I was also fortunate to be elected Senior Class Treasurer and our class was responsible for the refurbished bridge across the lakes.
I am due to graduate in the Spring of 2015 with a Master’s of Public Administration degree from Kent State University.
Real World Preparation
Mount Union allowed the freedom for many professors to apply their curriculum to real world experiences. Several courses partnered with local businesses and applied current events to help students understand how the lessons learned in class would be useful in their careers.
Mount Union Friends
I have several friends from Mount Union that I stay connected with and several who I am fortunate to work with in my career.
I try to attend the Schooler Lecture and stay connected with the teaching staff and administration to see where my time and efforts might be helpful. I believe the Regula Center for Public Service is an incredible asset for the school and am looking for ways to get more involved.
I have many long-term personal and professional goals but I am a big believer in staying focused on the task at hand. Currently, I am working on merging Canton’s Park and Recreation Departments which is something that the City has been trying to accomplish for more than 60 years. We have an opportunity to make this merge a reality on the Fall 2015 ballot. I believe this merge has the potential to transform the perception of Canton by making Parks and Recreation operations more efficient, improving park facilities and providing more activities for all citizens to enjoy in their community.
The value of my degree has been incredible. Mount Union’s reputation for producing well-rounded and job ready students was critical to securing my first job and the experiences during my time in Alliance have continued to help throughout my career.
I love the fact that I am able to have a role in improving my hometown. It is a difficult task to have the pressure of changing policies and programs that impact the lives of friends and family, but the reward of seeing tangible improvements in the community is the best part of being a public servant.
Mount Union’s reputation for producing well-rounded and job ready students was critical to securing my first job and the experiences during my time in Alliance have continued to help throughout my career.
- What is number one on your bucket list?
- I have had a lot of close calls, but I still don’t have a hole-in-one.
- Who is your hero?
- My grandfather
- What is your biggest pet peeve?
- Inconsiderate driving
- In a meeting with your peers is your phone on the table, in your pocket or purse, left at your desk or in your car?
- Any of the above.
- What is your favorite movie?
- I love movies, but don’t have a clear cut favorite. "House of Cards" is my favorite TV series.
- What is your favorite kind of sandwich?
- Anything from Deli Ohio or George’s Lounge in Downtown Canton.
- What is your usual bedtime?
- 10:30 p.m.
- Do you dance in the car?
- What was the occupation you wanted to be when you were a kid?
- Professional baseball player
- What’s one thing most people would be surprised to find out about you?
- I don’t enjoy flying.