A journey through the TFC with Parker Willmon

Parker Willmon, Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering ’25

TFC Social Startups Chair 2022 – 2023

TFC Impact Investing Chair 2023 – 2024

In 2021, I got involved with the TFC by competing in our pitch competition. The focus of the pitch was a business idea that could employ 250 people in Middle Tennessee by 2024 following the pandemic. My background was in engineering, and I was surprised by the focus this organization put into stakeholder value rather than purely shareholder value. It struck a chord with me. After competing in that pitch, I participated in Special Projects Consulting and Project Pyramid. Both of these focused on consulting projects, but Project Pyramid really stood out to me. It had nothing to do with the project though. What really impacted me was the week I spent in Puerto Rico with my classmates. I learned so much about these classmates, and we became good friends hanging out until super late and trekking through a rainforest together. It was easily my favorite part of graduate school up until that point.

Then came the end of the year. About half of those new friends were graduating and leaving for new jobs. At the same time, I became the chair of Social Startups focusing on the Hult Competition. My time in this position put me in contact with various organizations and individuals around campus, and the accidental development of some new potential programming. Simultaneously, I have been competing in MIINT, and this newsletter should come out while we’re pitching at Wharton. (Wish us luck!) But even though I didn’t go to a new place for a week, I have still developed strong friendships with members of the TFC because we all share a similar interest in helping others via business even if we have different ways, we’d like to go about it.

 We now are approaching the end of another year, and I’ll be taking over as the Impact Investing Chair. As I reflect on my time at the TFC, the incredible people I’ve met and the fascinating friends I’ve made are by far the best part of my time not just at the TFC but in graduate school. it’s a bitter-sweet moment as I sit in a room of new and old board members. These friends I’ve made over the last year are preparing to leave, but I know this new group will grow close as well. Everyone is sharing what brought them to the TFC, and time and again the answer includes something along the lines of “We are a family.” I hope the board last year has generated that feeling in you, and to those that came before me, thank you for creating a welcoming and challenging environment. Finally, to the people I call friends from the last two years, thank you for allowing me to join the family.