Parker Revers wants to learn as much as he can in his four years at Notre Dame.
So even though the senior will be working full-time in Morgan Stanley’s healthcare group in San Francisco after graduation, achieving his educational goal meant dropping his finance major this year so he could take more history classes.
“It was a struggle, because a lot of stuff that I learned during my internships was covered during the following year of classes,” Revers said. “A lot of it felt redundant and I wasn't learning as much as I could.”
After working in investment banking in Beijing for a summer, Revers felt confident he could continue advancing his understanding of finance by reading books on his own, allowing him to devote more of his courseload to further exploring history, his primary major.
“I want to take classes that expose you to a new way of thinking or a new perspective, and history was always what was doing that for me,” Revers said.
“The thought process of digging into old texts, structuring your ideas, parsing them, and communicating them effectively has been super important and always will be. The history major teaches you how to think — it really does.”
Shaping a story
The decision also opened up more time for Revers to commit to his senior thesis, as his interest in so many different aspects and eras of history made choosing a topic a challenge.
He explored ideas ranging from the production of coffee to the transition from rock to hip-hop as the dominant music genre in pop culture, before finally settling on a biography of the sportswriter Red Smith. The 1927 Notre Dame graduate and New York Times journalist was just the second sports columnist to win the Pulitzer Prize.
Revers has spent countless hours this year reading through material donated to the Hesburgh Libraries by the family of Smith, who died in 1982.
“He’s kind of an unknown name today, but he should be better known,” Revers said. “I've really enjoyed the research because you get the first glimpse into someone's life. It’s so different than regular work for history classes — this is me examining primary sources and creating some sort of story out of it.”
Revers first heard of Red Smith because of his coverage and criticism of Muhammad Ali. He was instantly drawn to the topic for his thesis as it combines his love of writing with his love of boxing.
As a freshman, Revers showed up to Bengal Bouts, the men’s boxing club on campus, simply looking for a good workout — and was quickly inspired by the way the team taught values like hard work and determination. Through hours of extra practice, he became a talented boxer, and this year served as president of the club.
“I’ve always been about taking the path of most resistance,” he said. “I enjoy struggling with certain activities — that’s usually a good sign that you're going to improve.”
Bengal Bouts’ annual tournament raises funds for the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh, which builds schools, churches, and health care facilities. Revers saw the impact of some of that work firsthand the summer after his freshman year, through the Center for Social Concerns’ International Summer Service Learning Program. He spent eight weeks in Sreemangal, Bangladesh, teaching English to children ages 8 to 18.
In Bangladesh, many indigenous people are persecuted by the government and exiled or killed. Most of the families the Holy Cross Missions support work as tea farmers and survive on just one dollar a day.
“If you're a kid in a family guaranteed to work that sort of job, you're given a really short stick in life,” Revers said. “By helping to provide an education, Bengal Bouts has sent tens of thousands of kids to trade schools. It has a direct, significant impact on a lot of people.”
In observing the political and social structures within Bangladesh, Revers also witnessed a concept that was frequently discussed in his coursework — how history is shaped based on who is in power, and whose perspective a story is told from.
That was a concept frequently emphasized by John Deak, an associate professor of history, who team-taught the first history course Revers took and has become a mentor to him. Deak is one of many faculty that Revers credits for igniting and building his love of all things history.
“Every professor I’ve had provides their own really special twist on the given topic, whether it be 16th-century Rome or World War II,” he said. “When you get someone that's so passionate about a certain topic, the class is bound to be good — no matter what it is.”
As he prepares to begin his career at Morgan Stanley, which offered him a job following his internship there last summer, Revers has found that his deep study of history, as well as his broader Arts and Letters education, has prepared him to pursue any future path.
“The thought process of digging into old texts, structuring your ideas, parsing them, and communicating them effectively has been super important and always will be,” he said. “The history major teaches you how to think — it really does.”
“Every (history) professor I’ve had provides their own really special twist on the given topic, whether it be 16th-century Rome or World War II. When you get someone that's so passionate about a certain topic, the class is bound to be good — no matter what it is.”