When Yohan Eskrick-Parkinson ’22 was a first-year student at Northwestern in 2018, he reached out via Instagram to pioneering Jamaican diver Yona Knight-Wisdom.
Eskrick-Parkinson had been diving for Northwestern for just a few months when he learned that the two-time Olympian was competing at a meet in Eskrick-Parkinson’s hometown of Calgary, Alberta.
“I told Yona, ‘Hope you liked my home pool,’ and from there we chatted about diving,” says Eskrick-Parkinson, who is half-Jamaican and aspired to represent his father’s home country in international competitions. “I didn’t have my [Jamaican] citizenship yet, but we decided to keep in touch.”
Eskrick-Parkinson kept diving and broke the 1-meter and 3-meter school records at Northwestern, where he majored in neuroscience. He became a senior captain on the swimming and diving team.
After Eskrick-Parkinson gained his Jamaican citizenship, he reconnected with Knight-Wisdom.
Last December, the 21-year-old joined Knight-Wisdom on Jamaica’s first-ever synchronized diving team. The duo finished second in the 3-meter synchro at the Scottish National and Open Diving Championships in Edinburgh.
“It’s been a learning experience to see the lifestyle of a pro athlete,” says Eskrick-Parkinson, one of the Big Ten’s top divers. “To spend a week with Yona, train with him, see his diet and work outside of practice — it’s been really inspiring.”
Discipline and time management — skills he honed while hitting the books in Evanston — have been crucial to Eskrick-Parkinson’s success. While his neuroscience courses could be intimidating, he says he grew comfortable balancing his sport and his studies.
And helping Jamaica make sports history? He’s finding time for that too.