Yemko Pryor is a member of Parker’s 14-year gang and recently graduated from Oberlin College, where she double majored in biology and Africana studies and received high honors for her senior thesis in Africana studies. Next, she continues as a researcher, working as a Post Baccalaureate at the University of Chicago. She is the daughter of Parker Drama Department Chair Leslie Holland Pryor.
When did you first discover your interest in your two fields of study—biology and Africana studies?
Since I was young, I have been interested in science, specifically social implications for scientific research. I knew I wanted to go into biology, but once I got on campus, the racial climate at Oberlin and in our country pushed me to explore courses in Africana studies. While taking those courses, I realized I needed the Africana Studies Department and curriculum in my life in order to positively progress and succeed through my education, but also through life in general.
How did those interests impact your honors thesis at Oberlin?
The research I conducted for my honors thesis bridged my two major concentrations, as I focused on how trans-generational trauma influences behavioral adaptations to white supremacy in Black Americans. My research informed my understanding about how Black Americans, like myself, move throughout the United States with the memory and influence of chattel slavery. Bridging both my concentrations allowed me to understand some of the long-term biological effects on behavior as well as mental, psychological and even physical health in Black Americans surviving with the generational memory of slavery and continued, but now cloaked, institutional racial oppression.
What are you going to work on at the University of Chicago? Is it a degree program or something else?
 I am going to be working in a lab at as a Post Baccalaureate student. This program is designed to help me gain more exposure to working in science at the graduate level so I am more prepared for obtaining my Ph.D., which I believe will be my next step after completing this program.
What are your career goals once you complete your post-graduate education?
I have always loved school and learning, but had a difficult time at schools like Parker and Oberlin, given the lack of individuals who not only look like me, but share similar interests. I hope to continue the research I conducted at Oberlin and travel and give lectures on my work. Above all, I want to become an educator, a professor, and eventually a dean to create institutional support and change for students who are historically under-represented in higher education.
Were there people or activities at Parker that influenced your path since graduating?
Definitely my mom—seeing her as one of few Black faculty struggle to support not only her own family, but the families of many under-represented students attending Parker. I’ve seen her fight for the rights of her advisees and mentees in staff meetings since I was about four years old, and she continues to inspire me every day so that I may one day be in similar shoes.
How did having your mom on the faculty affect your Parker experience? 
Having my mom at Parker was a godsend. I actually enjoyed having her as a teacher and a director and seeing her in her element. I went through a lot of racial and social trauma while attending Parker, but I was fortunate that I could run to my mother’s office for love and support and get advice on the course of action I would take to address these issues. I also loved being at the school, aside from all that I went through. Due to working on student productions, my mother often stayed at school late into the night, which gave me more time to meet the staff like John Mendez and spend time with friends. 
What are some of your favorite Parker memories?
I LOVED County Fair. My favorite place was the cakewalk, and I remember one year a bunch of my friends and I all won cakes at different times and had a feast. I also loved participating in the musicals, specifically Once on This Island, which we did when I was a sophomore, and I played Asaka Mother of the Earth. Besides that, I have great memories of many Class Days and closing and opening MXes. 
What do you enjoy doing beyond your academic studies?
I enjoy spending time outside with my dog, watching anime and hanging out with my friends and family. Many of my friends are musicians, so I often enjoy attending jazz shows and other concerts. I enjoy reading books like Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins, journaling my own thoughts and meditating. 
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.