Black Women Firsts: Marquette University School Of Dentistry Class President Chante Parker

Feb 18, 2020

In honor of Black History Month, we're highlighting several black women making history in their roles and industries here in Wisconsin. The series is called Black Women Firsts

Meet Chante Parker, a student at Marquette University’s School of Dentistry. Parker was born and raised in Atlanta, Ga., and completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Miami before coming to Milwaukee for dental school. She says Marquette dental school’s reputation is what brought her here.

Parker says coming from Atlanta to Milwaukee was a culture shock. Black people are typically successful in Atlanta, but she didn’t really see that as much when she came to Milwaukee. But in her role, she hopes to leave behind a legacy of advocacy and inclusion for the greater Milwaukee community.
Credit Saul Lopez

Parker is the first black woman to be class president in the dental school’s 125-year history, representing second-year students. 

"I would've never thought that, that was me," she says. "When I ran for the position, I didn't have any knowledge of there ever not being a black person in the position. I just assumed that — I'm from Atlanta, I went to school down in Miami. Those type of positions, seeing black people do well is not uncommon to me."

Parker says coming to Milwaukee was a culture shock.

"I came to Milwaukee not realizing how segregated of a city it was. I came to Milwaukee realizing that there are a lot of black people here that aren't doing well. That's not something that I'm used to," she explains.

Parker says seeing that, along with the community Marquette's dental school directly serves, she knew she wanted to take on a leadership role at the school. In addition to wanting to be a voice for her peers. 

She wants her legacy to be one that is stepping-stone for others that follow.

Do you have a question about race in Milwaukee that you'd like WUWM's Teran Powell to explore? Submit it below.