Casey Parks is a staff reporter for The Hechinger Report, where her coverage of Louisiana (link is external) last year prompted the state to repeal a long-standing rule that barred immigrant students from playing high school sports. She previously worked at the Jackson (Miss.) Free Press and spent a decade at The Oregonian, where she wrote about race and LGBTQ issues. There, she followed a transgender teenager for three years (link is external) as he transitioned and navigated high school amid changing cultural norms and she was a Livingston Finalist for a profile of two Tongan teenagers (link is external) choosing between their faith and football. Last year, her story about a Louisiana woman trying to graduate  (link is external)from the historically black college Grambling State University ran on The New Yorker’s website.

Parks, a Louisiana native who attended Millsaps College in Mississippi, plans to use the Spencer Fellowship to report about rural education issues through the story of one school district in the Mississippi Delta.